Still as good as the previous times. This is also one where I seem to discover more and more things on the re-read. Or rather, different things come to the fore on the re-reads once you're not focused on the plot and on solving the mystery.
Dame Agatha liked to add references to Shakespeare in some of her books, and this is the first time that I really noticed to the references to The Tempest in this one.
Shock and trauma manifests in many forms. I completely forgot that Ariadne is so affected by this case that she's done the unthinkable:
‘The trouble with you is,’ said Mrs Oliver, beginning to unwrap a package on the table which she had obviously recently purchased, ‘the trouble with you is that you insist on being smart. You mind more about your clothes and your moustaches and how you look and what you wear than comfort. Now comfort is really the great thing. Once you’ve passed, say, fifty, comfort is the only thing that matters.’
‘Madame, chère Madame, I do not know that I agree with you.’
‘Well, you’d better,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘If not, you will suffer a great deal, and it will be worse year after year.’
Mrs Oliver fished a gaily covered box from its paper bag. Removing the lid of this, she picked up a small portion of its contents and transferred it to her mouth. She then licked her fingers, wiped them on a handkerchief, and murmured, rather indistinctly:
‘Do you no longer eat apples? I have always seen you with a bag of apples in your hand, or eating them, or on occasions the bag breaks and they tumble out on the road.’
‘I told you,’ said Mrs Oliver, ‘I told you that I never want to see an apple again. No. I hate apples. I suppose I shall get over it some day and eat them again, but—well, I don’t like the associations of apples.’
‘And what is it that you eat now?’
Poirot picked up the gaily coloured lid decorated with a picture of a palm tree. ‘Tunis dates,’ he read. ‘Ah, dates now.’
‘That’s right,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘Dates.’
She took another date and put it in her mouth, removed a stone which she threw into a bush and continued to munch.
It's not Christie's best mystery but I love this book so many aspects that aren't connected with the mystery - best of all: Ariadne.
Our favourite mystery writer alter-ego is off to a splendid start in this one.
First we get a joke about the vegetable marrow, whose mere mention will make me crack a smile and remember Poirot's famous spat with one of the very same.
And then we have Ariadne being interviewed by a 13-year-old:
Joyce, a sturdy thirteen-year-old, seized the bowl of apples. Two rolled off it and stopped, as though arrested by a witch’s wand, at Mrs Oliver’s feet.
‘You like apples, don’t you,’ said Joyce. ‘I read you did, or perhaps I heard it on the telly. You’re the one who writes murder stories, aren’t you?’
‘Yes,’ said Mrs Oliver.
‘We ought to have made you do something connected with murders. Have a murder at the party tonight and make people solve it.’
‘No, thank you,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘Never again.’
‘What do you mean, never again?’
‘Well, I did once, and it didn’t turn out much of a success,’ said Mrs Oliver.
‘But you’ve written lots of books,’ said Joyce, ‘you make a lot of money out of them, don’t you?’
‘In a way,’ said Mrs Oliver, her thoughts flying to the Inland Revenue.
‘And you’ve got a detective who’s a Finn.’
Mrs Oliver admitted the fact. A small stolid boy not yet, Mrs Oliver would have thought, arrived at the seniority of the eleven-plus, said sternly, ‘Why a Finn?’
‘I’ve often wondered,’ said Mrs Oliver truthfully.
And then, of course, she's locked out of the bathroom at a time of need by a teenage couple.
LoL. I love the opening of this book.
My original pick for the Halloween square was a wash-out. What is worse is that is was ridiculously short that I cannot in all good conscience count the "book" towards the Bingo task. I really can't bring myself to do it.
So, I am turning to an assured source of quality writing and fabulous characters: