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My love of reading dates back to my late school days. In those days my favourite and practically the only author I enjoyed was Agatha Christie. I attribute my interest in crime fiction to this very talented writer. Primarily it was her unique Belgium Detective Hercule Poirot that I liked best and here I am going to review the last novel in this series.
==About the author:==
Agatha Christie is the most famous mystery writer of all time. She was born in 1890 and died in 1976. She has sold over an astonishing billion copies of her stories having them translated into 44 languages. Her two most famous characters are Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, with many of these books being successfully transferred into films and television programs. As well as the 80 novels she also wrote 14 plays of which the Mousetrap is the most famous. She also wrote romantic fiction under the pseudonym Mary Westacott.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Hercule Poirot partner in crime solving Arthur Hastings is delighted to receive a letter from his old friend inviting him down to the Country House Styles. This place holds special memories for Hastings, as it was the first murder the two men worked together on many years before.
Poirot gives little away in his letter and Hastings is more than happy to take the train down to see his friend. However, he is greatly saddened by what has happened to him as he is now an old man crippled with arthritis. Although he is also very pleasantly surprised to find his daughter Judith is also staying there while working with a Doctor on a project.
Hastings is amazed to find Poirot has called him down so that they may 'go hunting' one last time. As he has tracked down a murderer who he has linked to five murders already. He passes on the newspaper cuttings to Hastings of some very different and seemingly unlinked crimes. Hastings must now mingle with the guests and try and deduce with Poirot's help who is this mysterious killer before he or she strikes again because Poirot can no longer get about without help but his 'little grey cells' remain as sharp as ever.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I found this a well-written and thoroughly absorbing piece of crime fiction. I think the mark of a good novel is if you want to read it again and again and I have to confess this is the third time I have read this one. And despite being able to remember the identity of the mysterious killer, it did not stop me enjoying this very cleverly written thriller.
What I found particularly pleasing about this novel is, as the title suggests it is Hercule Poirot's final case. As such it brings a sense of closure on the life and times of this most amazing Private Detective. Who not only through the author's excellent novels but also television and film has become one of the most famous and iconic Detectives in the history of crime stories.
Quite amazingly this novel was written in 1975 just one year before the author herself passed away. I fancied this week for my review to revisit an old favourite of mine in Agatha Christie. Having read all the Poirot books I knew that I was likely to remember the murderer and the reasoning behind the crimes, but I did not find this a problem as I enjoyed the quality and style of the authors work.
However I was in for a nasty and odd very surprise when I picked the book up. My copy was published in 1980 and I am hoping this doesn't apply to later reprints of the book. As when I came to look for the summary of the story there wasn't one!! This completely stunned me and I think it is a first for me a novel without a summary!! In my opinion this is a draft thing to do as when your browsing for a book you always want to know what the book is about before purchasing it.
What you did have is on the back cover are various quotes from various writers from papers singing the novels praises. As well as that there was four paragraphs summary about the author herself, which I found interesting and quite enlightening. But I still would have liked a summary of it!
The story for me was excellent, it had been many years since I last read this, but none the less I still got completely wrapped up in the story. The concept of these two old friends returning to their scene of their first crime and this being their last together I thought was a master stroke. I also really liked the idea of Hastings being in charge of finding the devious killer as he is reliable, honest but lacking any common sense and I love the way he always thinks the best of everyone but the more astute Poirot sees beneath this and can see what is really happening.
The story was very easy to get into and for me a fan of these two central characters it was like reacquainting myself with old friends. I enjoyed the thought of these two men meeting up after years of success but having been apart for some time. I loved the fact Poirot would not tell Hastings who the suspect X was and their very amusing scenes as Hastings could not understand why his friend would not tell him this vital information as he knew what his reaction would be and he would make it very obvious to the killer.
Admittedly the first time I read this story I got a little confused as for me nothing was happening. It seemed an age before anyone died and arguments between various characters and odd conversations did not inspire me. In retrospect and with the benefit of reading it again, it all makes perfect sense and I really can see the beauty of how clever this story really is.
So for those reading it for the first time I would say certainly stick with it, as it as well as being a great crime thriller is quite an interesting and amusing read. There is always something happening and although you may think some of the things are irrelevant they are important in the context of the story. I enjoyed the way Hastings reported back to Poirot each evening what had happened that day and the Detective would try and put his loyal friend back on the right track and show him the light. It allowed the reader to see both men's perspective and ensured you did not miss any clues that had appeared.
As soon as one of the residents died that was when a whole host of possibilities presented themselves and although I found the situation frustrating but it wasn't to last, but I can't tell you why as it would be giving too much away. At this point as typical with a Christie novel all the characters seemed to have either a reason/motive or an opportunity to commit the crime.
Even the ever modest Hercule Poirot had to admit he was up against probably the cleverest criminal. With him in very poor health you really wondered if he would be able to solve the case. Especially when Hastings was blundering about and Poirot could do little from the confined of his chair, only advise and try to help him see the signs and put him in the right direction.
The ending of the story is always the bit that really blows me away. It is so surprising, so unexpected and so clever. You think its all over, you think it doesn't sit quite right, you think it's a let down, until the very end when the mist clears and it makes perfect sense. It really is a gem of an ending and probably the one out of all the books I have read I always remember because it is so brilliant.
With this being a Christie novel, it is full of suspense and mystery. Also because of when this was written and the style the author has always used the reader is called upon to think of the solution, as Poirot would say to 'use the little grey cells'. As a result I am absolutely certain her style of writing has influenced many later crime thriller writers.
For me Poirot is still the most important character in the book. While his health and physical ability limits him considerabably he more than makes up for it with his still stunning personality and his amazing brain. I found it sad to think of him as a crippled old man I was still able to enjoy his taunting and very amusing conversations with Hastings and you could still see the flashing of brilliance from the great man.
It was good however to have so much more involvement from Hastings, who often plays a very limited role in the stories. It was unusual and good to see things from his viewpoint and have his involvement in what was happening. His attitude may be a little dated and reminded me of an old fashioned English Gentleman, always worrying about appearances and how things look to other people. And despite being easy to manipulate he was still a great character and one who would always try his best for Poirot even if at times it was almost counter productive.
What always impresses me with this author's work and this book is absolutely no exception is the quality and depth she employs on her support characters. As they are all given interesting personalities but what they all share even the kindest and mildest is a sense of mystery about them and they could given the right situation commit a serious crime. The rich diversity of characters in this story made it very entertaining especially the way they interact with one another.
This was not a long book and in truth I would like it to go on and on, but it seemed a logical point to end the story. One thing I would have preferred is although you had regular chapters they followed on instantly from the previous one. I would have liked at the very minimum a new page for the new chapter. For me this was classic Christie entertainment with a fabulous concept and a wonderfully thought out mystery, in which the clues are there of the reader is clever enough to spot.
I would recommend this Poirot crime thriller as an excellent story and well worth a read. For me it is one of the best and certainly a wonderful way for such a great detective in finishes his career. The story was first class with so many possibilities and so much thought and depth put into it. My only disappointment was the lack of a summary of the story, which didn't bother me I just found it unusual.
Publisher: Harper Collins
About the author: www.agathachristie.com
Year of publication: 1975
Thanks for reading my review
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
©CPTDANIELS December 2010.
This, for me, was the most emotive Poirot book I have ever read. Poirot is always seen as omniscient: he can second-guess the very best of his adversarys, and the deductions displayed in books such as "The ABC Murders" and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" were inspirational. This book continues this trend, with the traditional setting of several suspicious characters, living in a house in which murder takes place. It is sad therefore when Poirot, as we all must unfortunately do, ages. Bound to a chair, and wearing a wig, through Hastings we almost feel pity for the Belgian detective. But his "little grey cells" are not impaired, and the final twist at the end of the book is certainly well-executed. It is comforting at least that Poirot is very well shown in this book to be human, like the rest of us: the end of the book illustrates this quality brilliantly (I do not want to be too detailed here, as this is a detective story, and revealing what happens removes half of the fun). This is a fantastic read, perfect for a light read at the end of the day, and is a fitting finale for a beautifully-constructed character.
The final case for Hercule Poirot!!
as it seems Hercule poirot and the ever faithful captain Hastings have come around in a full circle- back the country house styles where they solved their first case ready to solve what would be their last. this time the guests at the mysterious and somewhat haunting house include Hastings beloved daughter Judith, Colonel Lutterel and his wife, a Dr Franklin and his wife, one stephen norton and a nurse elizabeth.
Poirot himself is now old and crippled due to arthiritus but continuely insits that his little grey cells are working just fine. when hastings arrives the first thing he does is show him 5 newspaper cuttings of apparently separate cases which are all linked by a certain person 'x'. this mysterious 'x' is now staying at Styles and it is up to Hastings to discover who...but will it be intime?
this is christie's finest novel a must read but it is advisable to read the first book- the mysterious affair at styles- before this one. with so many twists and turns it is so hard to put this book down.
thank you and please rate
The new look series of Hercule Poirot books for the 21st Century. The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara , Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot's declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the ageing detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?