We begin our story as Hercule Poirot is attending an exhibition of snuff boxes with many London society people. He meets an acquaintance, Mr. Shaitana, and has an interesting little discussion about collectibles and murderers. Mr. Shaitana, who is famous for wonderful and interesting parties, invites Poirot to dinner and promises that the evening will showcase a 'collection' of a very different kind.
Poirot arrives for dinner and finds himself not the only guest that is connected with crime in some way. There are four 'crime solvers' - Poirot, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, Colonel Race - Secret Service or MI6 or whatever that branch is called in the 1930's, and also Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, crime fiction writer. In a few minutes, the other guests arrive - Dr. Roberts, Mrs. Lorrimer, Miss Meredith, and Major Despard. These people represent the other side of the coin. Mr. Shaitana has hinted to Poirot that he collects 'murderers' - the ones that got away with it.
Dinner is served and afterwards, the guests divide up to play bridge - sleuths in one room and possible criminals in the other. Mr. Shaitana sits in a chair by the fire and as the evening goes on, well, Mr. Shaitana is murdered. Who did it and how can no one have seen? Our task as readers is to go along with the investigation in which all of our crime solvers take a part. They have to suss out not only the murderer of Mr. Shaitana, but also decide if his suspicions were correct. Were their fellow guests murderers?
I listened to this book, but I have read Cards On The Table in print as well. Christie uses the bridge scores to assist in solving the crime and the book shows those scores as a visual aid. I know nothing about bridge, but it's not hard to follow Poirot as he questions people using the score sheets. Each sleuth has their own method. Battle appears slightly slow and dull, and he is anything but that. Colonel Race is the one shown least, as befits a spy, I suppose. I love Mrs. Oliver and love the books where she appears. Her character is humorous and shrewder than one might expect. It's not hard to surmise that the author put a bit of herself into the character. I've always wondered if Christie liked apples as much as Mrs. Oliver. She wrote in an introduction to the book:
Spot the least likely person to have committed the crime and nine times out of ten your task is finished.
Since I do not want my faithful readers to fling away this book in disgust, I prefer to warn them beforehand that this is not that kind of book. There are only four starters and any one of them, given the right circumstances, might have committed the crime....The deduction, therefore must be entirely psychological...
So, if you'd like an Agatha Christie book that will keep you guessing, pick up Cards On The Table. It a good 'un!
I don't know anything about bridge either, but do enjoy a good Agatha Christie novel. Will add this one to my list!ReplyDelete
The bridge scores are used by Poirot to determine some things about the 'psychology'. It helped the 'little gray cells'. LOLDelete
I have never read an Agitha Christie. Don't judge me. Would this be a good one to start with?ReplyDelete
Jill, it would be fine. All 4 of the sleuths appear in other books with Poirot and Battle is in one or two alone. Colonel Race is in another of my favorites - Death On The Nile. I might suggest Murder On The Orient Express too.Delete
I've only read one of her books and I thought it was just okay so I haven't been tempted to pick up others.ReplyDelete
She's not for everyone, Kathy. I read one of her Tommy and Tuppence books first and almost didn't read more. Found my comfort zone with Miss Marple, especially, but also with Poirot.Delete
Wonder if my husband would enjoy reading such, as much as he enjoys watching the 'Poirit" programs???ReplyDelete
And I haven't read her books either!!!
Or did I read one??? With so many of the DVD's watched, I get confused as to which is which... Book knowledge or DVD knowledge. lolDelete
There was a TV adaptation of this one, as I think there have been for all the Poirot books and stories. Tessa, you should try Death On The Nile or Murder On The Orient Express for Poirot. And I think you've been watching some Miss Marple? I love all of hers, but am especially fond of Sleeping Murder and A Murder Is Announced.Delete
I've been thinking lately that I need to get back to Agatha Christie. I have Cards on the Table but I haven't read it yet. The audio version sounds like it would be really good. I love Hugh Fraser. Have a great weekend!ReplyDelete
You'd probably enjoy this one, Monica. It's a little different with the 4 sleuths.Delete
I love Mrs. Oliver! I kind of feel like she's a shared joke for the readers with her complaining about her quirky detective and all that. I'm currently rereading Agatha's books and am in the Poirots and I do like this one. Miss Marple is my favorite though. I think we share a favorite - Sleeping Murder.ReplyDelete
Sleeping Murder is wonderful. Such a creepy mystery. And I agree about Mrs. Oliver - always complaining about her Finn. LOLDelete
This is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books. Glad you loved it too.ReplyDelete
Nice to know you share my love of this one, Margaret!Delete
Ooooh... I don't think I've heard of this AC. I must see if I can find it somewhere.ReplyDelete
Oh, this one is good, Cath. You should definitely read it. It's wouldn't take you long.Delete
I do want to read Cards on the Table, but if I keep reading Christie's in order, it will be a while until I get to it. I have never listened to an audio book but I can easily see that books by Christie would be a good candidate for that form of reading.ReplyDelete
Her books work very well on audio, at least for me. Good luck with your 'reading in order' project.Delete
I think the only Poirot book I've read is Murder on the Orient Express. For being a fan of mysteries I have hardly read any Christie books. Actually it wasn't until blogging that I finally picked one up! Anyway, enjoyed your review on this one!ReplyDelete
I have a few very favorite Poirot books and this is one of them. I've reread it several times.Delete
I always enjoy the books with Mrs. Oliver in them, too. Although I do always wish I knew a little more about bridge when I read this one!ReplyDelete
Yes, I get what you are saying. It sounds fairly complicated to me. LOLDelete
I need to go back and read her books again. I can't remember if I've read this one. I do love Christie's writing and think she tells a good mystery. I like books that keep me guessing.ReplyDelete
I haven't reread all the Christie books, but I do have a few that I seem to go to again and again.Delete
Do you think I can read them out of order? I'm bad in following series, lol. That said, this sounds like an interesting series.ReplyDelete
Honestly, Melody, even though various books feature certain characters - Poirot, Miss Marple, etc. - there really isn't an order that matters. Not like series books today. Read at will - any order you wish. There is a 'first' book about Poirot and a 'last' book. Same with Miss Marple. But even those would not be mandatory.Delete