Series: Hercule Poirot
Book Number: 7
Read this book for: classic Agatha Christie, interesting location, complicated story, classic mystery and crime fiction
Quick Review: A classic Hercule Poirot novel, and definitely one that captures the spirit of Poirot! Read for your fix of classic crime fiction.
Poirot and companion Hastings are on holiday in the Cornish Riviera when Poirot is alarmed by hearing pretty, young Miss Nick Buckley describe several recent brushes with death. When he finds a bullet hole in her sunhat, he decides to come out of retirement to protect her – but can he find the would-be killer before they can accomplish their goal?
PERIL AT END HOUSE is a well-known addition to the Hercule Poirot canon. It is excellent for many reasons, but I feel like the ending lets it down a bit. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic example of Poirot and Hastings’ relationship, and of the kind of twisting plot Christie so expertly built.
For me, the relationship between Poirot and Hastings has always been the high point of this novel. It’s a caring friendship with a bit of jealousy on Hastings’ part, and a bit of ego on Poirot’s side. They obviously look after one another, but Hastings is not afraid to call out Poirot on his moments of egotism, often using sarcasm which goes completely missed by Poirot, who is very brilliant, but not a very humble man. This interplay makes for some quite funny dialogue and enjoyable banter between the two of them. It’s especially gratifying considering Poirot’s exacting and quirky character, and the sheer normalcy of Hastings. It’s not quite a Watson/Holmes relationship but it’s quite similar, and a joy to read.
As for the setting and other characters, this novel is pure Christie. You can almost see their vacation at the Majestic – only the best for M. Poirot – and all the style and pomp that goes with it. So many of the iconic Poirot novels are set while he is travelling, and this is no different. You then have the addition of the somewhat typical English country house that is the centre of the majority of the other Poirot novels, and together you have almost the ultimate Christie setting. The characters are also fairly typical of Christie – interesting, and full of secrets.
In fact, the only thing that I felt was a bit of a let-down in this novel was the actual perpetrator and mastermind of the crimes. While it is fascinating and twisted, it was a bit too convoluted for my tastes; it almost was too complicated to be believable.
Regardless, I would still recommend PERIL AT END HOUSE as a great classic Christie read. It combines so many of the stylistic elements that make the Poirot novels my favourite Christie series, that it cannot be missed!