December 22, 2010

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie: Review

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At Christmas loving families gather around the tree opening presents and sipping eggnog. All is calm, all is bright. Except for the Lee family in Hercule Poirot's Christmas. The patriarch Simeon Lee has gathered his sons around him, not for the loving comfort of their presence, no, but to berate and mentally torture them. Merry Christmas!

Alfred, the devoted son, lives on the estate with his wife Lydia; Harry is the prodigal son returning after a long absence; David, the sensitive artist is back with his wife, no nonsense Hilda; and George is a politician with a young bride. Joining them is the only grandchild, a half-Spanish girl whose mother Jennifer (Simeon's run away daughter) died the year before. Simeon pushes the buttons of his kin until one of them can take it no longer. When he's found dead in a locked room, Hercule Poirot must figure out which of these characters is a murderer.

There's not much about Hercule Poirot's Christmas that's particularly Christmasy except for the setting. Christmastime is the perfect time to gather your (homicidal) relatives together in one room. The stress of the season, the clash of personalities, alcohol. It's a powder keg waiting to ignite. Most of us don't resort to murder but Simeon Lee is a guy who needed killing. I don't how he stayed alive as long as he did. He's nasty. He hates his kids, though he likes Pilar, his granddaughter. He does enjoy making them squirm. Any one of them could have finished off the old meany...

Which is exactly what Christie intends. They all had motive but who had the means? I had no idea. I was surprised by the ending, though the clues are laid out for the reader throughout. I did find the set up to the murder long and Simeon is almost silly in his evilness. And something that bothered me was how everyone was "opening" their eyes here, there and everywhere whenever they were surprised. Were they walking around with their eyes closed?  However, once Poirot showed up, I was hooked.

Anyway, this was a fun one and a different book for the holiday season.

Recommended.

5 comments :

  1. This sounds really good and I think the cover is just fabulous!

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  2. I have almost all Christie's books but I don't think I have this one. I will have to remember to look for it

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  3. I just recently read my first Agatha Christie book and I really enjoyed it -- I'm looking forward to picking up the Poirot series as well, I've heard so much about him!

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  4. I just read this one, too! I was surprised how enjoyable it was to read, since murder and Christmas don't go together in my mind (and I'm not really a mystery fan).

    Great review! Merry Christmas, Christina! :)

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  5. Hercule Poirot's Christmas was great.....I loved the clues to the murderer that I only realized in retrospect. It was very artfully done and I was surprised too.

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