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text 2015-11-30 15:07
Joint Blog: Our Top Five Poirot Mysteries with a Bonus
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Peril at End House - Agatha Christie
The ABC murders - Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17) - Agatha Christie
Murder On The Orient Express - Agatha Christie
Dead Man's Folly - Agatha Christie
Five Little Pigs (Hercule Poirot, #24) - Agatha Christie

Moonlight and I would like to thank you all so much for the comments and messages concerning these joint blogs about Poirot. We definitely had a blast with it and hope that you did too. 

 

Today is our last joint blog post and we are going to be focusing on our top five favorite Poirot novels with a bonus that is our least favorite Poirot novel. As you will see below, Moonlight and I had some overlap here and there. I think most people that read Christie will probably say that some of our picks, are there favorite Poirot novels as well.

 

 

Moonlight Reader

 

 

Moonlight Reader's top five Poirot mysteries:

 

5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Dame Agatha was playing with perspective and narration when she wrote this book. It was a ripping success, in my opinion, and the identity of the murderer is gobsmackingly shocking. Blue chose this as the most surprising Poirot, and I agree - it is gloriously unexpected! It doesn't rank higher than 5 for me mostly because the setting is so mundane - I tend to prefer the mysteries that are set in exotic locales!

4. Peril at End House: I am not entirely sure why I love this one so much. I like the crumbling End House, nearly falling into the sea. Christie did a good job surprising me, as well. There are some twists and turns that left me stunned. And the murderer is a cold-hearted creature!

3. The ABC Murders: This is also a departure for Christie, and is billed as one of the first "serial killer" mysteries. This is a bit misleading, since the ABC murderer, as Blue explained yesterday, is a very clever, but fatally greedy, fellow. I figured out the premise, but not the identity of the murderer midway through, but was having such a great time reading it that it didn't matter.

2. Death on the Nile: This is one of those books set in an exotic location that I love! Death on the Nile is complicated, morally ambiguous and surprising. It is exceptionally well-plotted, and the murderer is a shining star of manipulation. Definitely my second favorite, and one that I will read again someday.

And now, drumroll please, my Number One Poirot mystery:

1. Murder on the Orient Express: This is the Christie that I always recommend to readers who haven't read her books before. It is exceptionally well-done. A locked room mystery on a train caught in a snowstorm somewhere in the Balkans, a victim who is definitely worthy of killing, and a delightful group of suspects. There is nothing about this book that I don't love!

 

Bonus: my most hated Poirot was The Big Four. It was absolutely terrible and I have nothing good to say about it. I don't know what Agatha Christie was thinking when she wrote it, but, wow, someone should've pulled the plug on it. It's a shitfest!

 

Obsidian Blue

 

Obsidian Blue's top five Poirot mysteries:

 

5. Dead Man's Folly: There have been very few Poirot that actually had me feeling real fear. Maybe it was the atmosphere of Nasse house where long dead family members seem to loom. For once the character of Ariadne Oliver is not played for comic relief. Poirot meets her at her request and he realizes that her feelings that something horrible is about to happen is about to come true. The reveal of the murderer shocked me a great deal and the why had my jaw dropping.

4. Death on the Nile: I agree with everything that Moonlight says here regarding this book. I thought it was very well done and as she said the murderer is a master manipulator.

3. Five Little Pigs: Wow. I have to say that the way that this book was handled was quite brilliant. Poirot is called upon to investigate whether a woman who died in prison was responsible for the murder of her husband, sixteen years prior to the start of the novel. Poirot investigates through interviews with "five" people who were on the scene back then and through interviews manages to piece together what happened.

2. Murder on the Orient Express: I love locked room murder mysteries. And in this case, I absolutely adored the lock room murder that took place on the Orient Express. After a Mr. Ratchett is found murdered in his bed Poirot is called upon to investigate. This was definitely a slow burn mystery and I can honestly say that I didn't catch on at all with the stunning reveal. It's always fun for me to go back and read a book after I finish it just to see the clues in a new way. This one will always go down as a favorite with me.

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Yep this is my number one and Moonlight's number five. I think I love this book so much because as Moonlight says, Dame Agatha plays with perspective and narration. Once you finish the book you have to go back and read it just so that you can see all of the clues that you missed the first time through. I always tell friends who are interested in reading Christie to read this book first in the Poirot series and if they want to read Miss Marple go and read The Body in the Library first.

Bonus: My most hated Poirot...yeah I had a hard time figuring that one out and just settled on The Mystery of the Blue Train. I still loathe The Big Four too, but The Mystery of the Blue Train edged it out. This book is the anti Murder on the Orient Express. Very little Poirot is in this book and instead we have a stand in for Hastings (Katherine Grey) who is not utilized well at all. She finds herself involved with who murdered Ruby Kettering. That of course gets overlooked since this book focuses more on Katherine's love life and her falling in love with Ruby Kettering's husband. A critic review mentions this is one of Christie's least favorite Poirot novels and I can see why.

 

 

You can find our other joint posts here:

 

Most Surprising

Most Boring

Most Ridiculous or Contrived

Victim Most In Need of a Bludgeoning

Chillin' Like a Villain

 

Thanks again everyone for reading along! 

 

 

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-29 16:00
Joint blog: Chillin' Like A Villain
The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13) - Agatha Christie
Big Four - Agatha Christie
After the Funeral - Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17) - Agatha Christie

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

 

Today we are talking about villains! One of the things about Christie is that she is equal opportunity blood-thirsty. Some of her most cold-hearted villains are ladies. Picking just two out of the bunch is difficult. It's also impossible to discuss without acknowledging whodunnit, so if you are planning on reading any of the books marked above, you should skip this post.

 

In an effort to be as non-spoilery as possible, I'm going to call each villain "the murderer" during the description, and then add the name in a spoiler tag under their section of the post.

 

Without further ado, let's talk villainy!

 

 

 

 

Obsidian Blue

Best/worst villains.



My choice for best villain is going to be The Murderer from the A.B.C. Murders. This person was actually very smart and ruthless. I honestly did not figure out who the murderer was in this one because it was so well done by Christie.

“The spoken word and the written - there is an astonishing gulf between them. There is a way of turning sentences that completely reverses the meaning.

A serial killer appears to be taunting Poirot with the fact that he is going to kill and gives Poirot a date and location of each murder. Moving alphabetically we have three victims. Each murder seems quite brutal and many people are scared since it seems that the A.B.C. killer is randomly targeting people. Poirot and Hastings with family members of the victims get together and decide that they will do what is necessary in order to stop A.B.C. from striking again.

This book from beginning to end was just wonderfully done. There are a few clues here and there, but really The Murderer was quite smart and ruthless. When you realize that he is the murder, I actually gasped. And when you realize that The Murderer actually murdered two people, managed to set up another person to take the fall, and did all of this so his brother would not have a chance to marry again after his wife died, you are just blown away. To set up everything he did took months of planning. When his mask is finally revealed he shows nothing but contempt for Poirot and everyone else.

 

Franklin Clarke

(spoiler show)

 

My choice for worst villain is going to be the villains from The Big Four.

He laughs best who laughs at the end.”

For an international crime syndicate these four were actually not that smart. Poirot was not that smart either when trying to track them down, but still, he ended up getting all of them in the end. Also it is never really said how the heck these four people met up and said let's do evil. I needed some type of backstory. They were just randomly thrown together.

Like I said, these four people are totally random. Their end goal which I kid you not is the total disintegration of the human race. All four of them would not be out of place in a James Bond movie. Heck we even had some horrible monologues here and there by some of the villains. I was quite happy in the end when three of the Big Four were blown up (don't even ask) and the last one just committed suicide (which didn't even make sense) and the book came to an end.

 

The Big Four were: Abe Ryland who is the American soap king; Madame Olivier, a French nuclear physicist and analytical chemist; Li Chang Yen, a Chinese leader; and finally Claude Darrell, who is just known as the Destroyer who is an English actor and master of disguise.

(spoiler show)

 

Moonlight Reader

 

 

Oh, this is really hard! Agatha wrote some great villains - people who looked completely innocuous, but yet were cold as ice.

 

Best villain:

 

"I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger."

 

 

I'm going to give this one to The Murderer, from Death on the Nile. This person was a master manipulator and would have told you that he/she was completely selfless. He/she orchestrated an incredibly complex murder, which relied on some very complicated alibis.

 

It's also hard to feel a lot of sympathy for the victim, Linnet Ridgeway. She was the sort of mid-century young heiress who had it all: money, beauty, glamour, men flinging themselves about her feet. Her life was all so terribly boring, that the challenge to steal her best friend's very attractive boyfriend, Simon, was something Linnet just couldn't ignore. No one is surprised when she is shot - there are more motives than there are people in this book.

 

Of course, we find out at the end that the murderer, Jackie, had no illusions about her friend, and orchestrated the whole danged thing, understanding Linnet so well that she knew Simon would be a challenge she couldn't resist!

(spoiler show)

 

She would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling Belgian!

 

Worst villain:

 

‘Funerals!’ said his sister with deep disapproval. ‘Funerals are absolutely fatal for a man your age!”

 

I'm going to go with The Murderer from After the Funeral because she wasn't just cold as ice, she was a moron. I've not done a count, but I surmise that the vast majority of Christie's murders occur over money. This one had money at the bottom of it as well, but it was complicated by the fact that The Murderer wasn't going to inherit from the victim.

 

Rather, the murder gave The Murderer access to a piece of property that was the center of the motive, enabling The Murderer to steal it without anyone being the wiser. The problem with this entire nonsensical motive is that the victim didn't actually realize that the property was valuable - The Murderer probably could've stolen it and replaced it with a fake or a copy without her ever being the wiser.

 

There is nothing worse than someone who commits an UNNECESSARY murder, right? So cold-hearted!

 

The murderer was Miss Gilchrist, companion to the arty Cora, and obsessive planner of tea shops with twee themes.

(spoiler show)

 

You can find our other joint posts here:

 

Most Surprising

Most Boring

Most Ridiculous or Contrived

Victim Most In Need of a Bludgeoning

 

Our last joint post will go up tomorrow - our top five Poirot mysteries, in order of preference (with a bonus - we'll each tell you which we thought was the absolute worst)!

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text 2015-11-28 17:07
Joint Blog: Victim in Most Need of a Bludgeoning
Appointment with Death - Agatha Christie
The Hollow - Agatha Christie

Well ladies and gentlemen, we now have another Poirot topic for your consideration. Our next topic is, Victim in Most Need of a Bludgeoning in the Poirot series. Yes, we actually have some victims in these books that deserved killing. Heck I was annoyed that Poirot was even involved trying to solve these cases.

 

Moonlight Reader chose Appointment with Death and I chose The Hollow.

 

Believe me I agreed with Moonlight's choice, but had my own reasons for choosing The Hollow. As Moonlight said, the person I chose is a realistic terrible person (we have all met this guy before) the person that Moonlight chose was just straight up evil in my opinion. 

 

cat fight come at me bro slaps cat slaps

 

*************************************************

 

Moonlight Reader's opinion: 

 

Worst victim:

Mrs. Boynton from Appointment With Death.

 

"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

In my opinion, there is one kind of person: the kind of person who will commit murder given the right circumstances. After being alive for almost 50 years, I've concluded that everyone has a breaking point. Some people's breaking point is much quicker than others, but everyone has one.

Mrs. Boynton - the "victim" - didn't seem to realize this. She had dominated her family to the point that they were unable to act against her. She thought that the fact that she had been able to torment her family into submitting to her meant that she was invincible. She was a domestic tyrant, who tried to take her act outside of the family.

She was wrong - and found this out in the most unequivocal way possible, when she tried to psychologically torture the wrong person. Color me not even a little bit sympathetic. Some (fictional) people just need killing.

 

*************************************************

 

Obsidian Blue's opinion

 

Worst victim:

 

Dr. John Christow from The Hollow.

 

"And if you cast down an idol, there's nothing left."

 

The man looks at women as annoyances and or people who are supposed to worship him. The problem with that is that if you are setting people up to idolize you, when they realize that you are flesh and blood, the worshiping stops.

 

John Christow totally dominates his wife to the point she's unable to make any decisions without him telling her what to do. His mistress acts like he's a genius and therefore he get a pass on being a miserable human being. Everyone surrounding the man realizes he's been making a fool of his wife for years and then he runs into an old lover at one of his friend's country estate. He promptly runs off and has sex with her (charming). By the time he ends up dead next to the pool Poirot is on the scene. I heartily did not care who did it in this case since everything about the guy is repugnant. 

What ended up totally disgusting me was the ending which showed this man ended up ruining at least three women and his children's lives. I actually hated the fact that Poirot tracked down the killer in this case. Justice was not done, and it is probably the only case where I wish that the victim could have been murdered more than once. 

 

******************************

 

You can find our other three joint posts here:

 

The Most Surprising Poirot

The Most Boring Poirot

Most Contrived or Ridiculous Poirot

 

 

Next up: Best/Worst Villains. Find it on Moonlight's blog on Sunday!

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text 2015-11-27 17:00
Joint blog: Most contrived or ridiculous Poirot
The Clocks (Hercule Poirot, #34) - Agatha Christie
Third Girl (Hercule Poirot, #35) - Agatha Christie

Moving onto our discussion of the most contrived or ridiculous Poirot plot! We both had a few contenders. Obsidian Blue chose between Third Girl, After the Flood and her final selection. I considered The Clocks and The Big Four before finally settling on my choice! Both of these books deserve some serious side-eye!

 

 

 

This is basically us, looking at Agatha Christie. WTF were you thinking, Dame Agatha?

 

 

*************************************************

 

Obsidian Blue's opinion

 

Alright here is my most contrived/ridiculous book pick for Friday.

For me hands down it has to be "The Clocks". I dithered between this book "Third Girl", and "After the Flood" but in the end "The Clocks" won out. I will go down fighting and argue with anyone that the ending to "After the Flood" was one of the worst endings to a Hercule Poirot book I have ever read. It still makes me mad.

Ahem, I digress. Told in the first person by someone who is a son of someone who has worked with Poirot in the past and the third person just made the book unreadable in parts.

We had (though readers don't realize it until the very end) two plots going on. Plot one is who murdered a mysterious John Doe that was found in a blind woman's home. And the second plot is some undercover spy bits dealing with communist sympathizers who apparently run amok in this neighborhood. I think in the end everyone was connected to the communists and I kind of had to laugh.

I think I finally threw in the towel in this book after the male hero decided that a woman who was looking like she may be connected to the murder, was someone he was going to marry anyway. He kept referring to her as 'his girl' and he didn't care that she lied, he would keep that in mind in the future (excuse me why I go off and dry heave somewhere) and was totally prepared to give up his future for her.

The ending when it came was a joke. We find out who killed the mysterious John Doe and why (due to a witness that could just see everything that was carried out) and we find out what case our hero was really looking into. I called foul on the whole book especially because once again Christie left out key parts that would have shown the readers who the real culprits were in this book. Instead things are revealed at the end by the hero and Poirot.

 

*************************************************

 

Moonlight Reader's opinion: 

 

Yeah, The Clocks is up there for me, too, but I am picking Third Girl!

There were a few books where the solution to the murder is impossible and ridiculous and so complicated that in a million years it could never work. That is how Third Girl seemed to me, from beginning (when the "Third Girl" stumbles into Poirot's living room claiming that she might have murdered someone, but she isn't entirely certain, decides he is too old to help her and then disappears), to the bitter, bitter end.

It is impossible to fully discuss the crazy that is this book without giving away the entire plot. I'm not sure how much that matters, since the plot is basically terrible, but I'll do my best not to completely spoil this festival of dumb-shittery for anyone who might decide to pick it up. Suffice it to say that the book relies entirely on one of the characters being too dense to figure out that one of her roommates is also her step-mother.

What is this madness, you might ask - and it would be a fair question. I don't know about you, but this happens to me all the time. I'm living with someone, making a bag of microwave popcorn, and suddenly realize "ZOMG, you're one of the relatives I spent with the weekend with, in a wig and bright red lipstick. How did I never notice this before?" What, you haven't had this experience? Scoff.

And then there was the part where they were keeping her stupid by carefully calibrating and surreptitiously administering street drugs to her, with careful combinations of uppers and downers, which she neither figured out, nor caused her to overdose. Eye roll. And Ariadne Oliver bumbling about like a buffoon getting conked on the noggin.

This book was an epic train wreck.

 

******************************

 

I just have to add, these posts are so much fun to write! You can find our other two joint posts here:

 

The Most Surprising Poirot

The Most Boring Poirot

 

Next up: The Victim Most In Need of a Solid Bludgeoning. Find it on Blue's blog, on Saturday!

 

 

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text 2015-11-24 18:30
Joint blog: The Most Surprising Poirot
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie
Curtain: Poirot's Last Case - Agatha Christie

As I previously said, Obsidian Blue & I are going to be doing some joint posts about our experience with the Poirot project. We've selected some subjects to write about, & you should be seeing the posts for the next week or so.

 

 Today's topic: The Most Surprising Poirot.

 

 

************************************** 

 

Moonlight Reader's opinion: 


 

I really vacillated between the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which was Obsidian's selection, and Curtain, which I just finished. I've settled on Curtain.

 

I'll start with the runner up - like Obsidian, I was gobsmacked by The Murder of Roger Ackroyd the first time I read it. It is one of the few Poirot mysteries that was written in first person. Most of the first person Poirot novels are narrated by Hastings (who can be rather a dim bulb) - this one was not, being narrated by Poirot's new neighbor, Dr. Sheppard, who comes off as quite sharp and likeable. 

 

But I picked Curtain, because it has two huge surprises: the resolution of the murders and the ultimate fate of Hercule Poirot himself. I think the fact that Christie wrote it at the height of her writing powers and then held onto it for several years until she was ready to publish it has much to do with how successful it was for me. It was economically written, with good clues embedded into the story. I also feel like it was a really brave book for her to have written, and humanized Poirot for me tremendously - more than any other book had been able to do.

 

**************************************************

 

Obsidian Blue's opinion

 

Most surprising Poirot novel for me will always be hands down "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd".

Without giving too much away, the entire story is narrated by Dr James Sheppard who assists Poirot in his investigation of who murdered Roger Ackroyd. We find out that Poirot is newly retired and is going to grow vegetable marrows. Roger Ackroyd was a friend to Poirot so he has a personal stake in finding the murderer and bringing them to justice.

To me, next to "Murder on the Orient Express", this is classic Poirot.

Poirot is at the top of his game in this book. We also get a great cast of characters and a classic locked room murder mystery. I think at one point I had looked at the room's diagram at least 50 times in my version trying to figure out how the murder was committed.

I thought the writing was top notch and you really have to pay attention in order for you to get to who killed Roger Ackroyd and why. I was stumped from beginning to end. Once I got to the ending I actually went back and read the book again with the new information that was provided to me and smiled throughout.

The setting of the village of King's Abbot reminded me a bit of Miss Marple's St. Mary's Mead with a lot of colorful people running around.

Even though this is not the first Poirot book in the Hercule Poirot series I always recommend that people read this one first just so they can see the brilliance of Christie.

 

************************

 

If you have an opinion about the most surprising Poirot, let us know in the comments! We'd love to hear from you!

 

Blue has the next topic - the most boring Poirot. Look for it on her blog tomorrow!

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