Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Watching the many episodes of the TV adaptation of Poirot mysteries I was puzzled to see “based on a story by Agatha Christie” in the credits of many of them. I had read all of Agatha Christie’s novels and these stories were definitely not among them.
Now I know where they came from. Poirot Investigated, which I borrowed from the library thinking it was a novel, turns out to be a book of short stories and I hadn’t read it so I was in for a treat. The mystery stories originally appeared in a magazine in the early 1920s.
The stories are as varied as the novels. There’s a locked room jewel robbery in a grand hotel in the summer resort of Brighton. Timing is everything. There's a movie star with a diamond of unique and unparalleled beauty. Or is it? There's a delightful tale in which Poirot helps a potential heiress find a will hidden in her uncle's old house. She has one year to find it or she inherits nothing.
One of my favorites in this collection is “The Kidnapped Prime Minister,” published in 1923, in which a major peace conference is jeopardized by the disappearance of the prime minister. Poirot traces him from Downing Street through a series of adventures, including a mysterious shooting.
Another unusual story is “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge,” in which Poirot is in bed with the flu and Hastings and Japp have to solve the mystery, which has an interesting twist, by reporting back to the ailing detective.
And of course there’s the famous mystery about a box of chocolates, in which Poirot relates a story about his days as a Belgian police detective.
There are 14 mysteries in all and Christie has managed in short story form to keep us guessing just as she does in her novels. All of the stories are told by Captain Hastings, a voice I particularly enjoy. His bumbling, continual falling in love, and unwitting assistance to the great detective are all delightful.
2011 No 121