Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie --- 272 pages

A reissue, with a new title, of Christie's 1938 mystery, previously published as Murder for Christmas and A Holiday for Murder.

A family reluctantly gathers for Christmas in response to the summons of the patriarch, Simeon Lee, whose disdain for his offspring is only matched by their loathing for him. Can anyone really be surprised when the old man is found murdered in a locked room with a fortune in uncut diamonds missing from the safe?

The old man's valet, who has a dubious past, is suspected but able to produce a watertight alibi. The local police, represented by Superintendent Sugden, are stymied, but fortunately the Chief Constable for the County, Colonel Johnson, has a house guest for the holidays who is happy to assist. Enter the redoubtable Hercule Poirot.

This is vintage Christie: a locked room, a family at odds, a fortune at stake, and every suspect with disreputable secrets they are anxious to hide.  The investigation unfolds over seven days, and concludes with Poirot, in typical style, gathering all the suspects together to reconstruct the crime  and reveal the murderer.

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