It’s our final Monday Murder for the year, so I thought I’d go a bit festive and bring you Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, a collection of six short stories with all but one featuring Poirot. The odd one out features Miss Marple in a remarkably brief appearance. The book also has a foreword by Agatha Christie, which I found delightful, recounting, as it does, Christie’s memories of Christmas time as a youngster. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Agatha Christie’s seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection.
First came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder… the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits… and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide.
What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!
The six stories contained herein are the titular Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, The Under Dog, Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds, The Dream and Greenshaw’s Folly (which features Miss Marple). All but the first feature murders being solved ingeniously by either Poirot or Marple. The first story, however, is about the theft of a priceless jewel.
The Usual Suspects:
As there are so many different stories here, I can’t really go into detail about the suspects, but you can rest assured that the stories include all the old favourites, from long lost brothers returned from the African continent, to people pretending to be someone else, to people in disguise, to people hoping to inherit the murdered person’s worldly goods.
The Hunt for the Murderer/s:
Once again, specific details vary, but for the Poirot stories, our favourite Belgian is generally called in by the police or an interested party, does his questioning bit, and then casually reveals the killer before the story abruptly finishes. Similarly, in Greenshaw’s Folly, Miss Marple only experiences proceedings second-hand, yet still manages to pick motive, method and murderer, having never laid eyes on the scene or the players.
Four poison bottles for the cheery thought of a traditional Christmas party peopled by thieves and murderers.
It’s been a while since I read a Christie mystery so it was jolly good fun to jump back in with Poirot and Miss Marple and kick around some theories about who done it. I really enjoyed the fact that these were short stories too, because I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with end of year busyness just now and the short tales meant that I didn’t have to remember names and roles across a whole novel. I did get close to the answers in a number of the stories, guessing part, if not the whole solution, which is always satisfying and cause for a smug internal smile. I also found it interesting that the TV adaption of Greenshaw’s Folly that I saw earlier this year (or it could have even been last year) was much more in depth than the story here. It’s put me in just the right frame of mind to gear up for the The Murder of Roger Ackroyd that gets shown on telly here every Christmas Eve (or maybe the day before Christmas Eve). I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a mildly festive foray into murder in short, easily-digestible chunks.
Finishing this book is especially satisfying because I pulled it from my TBR shelf and so….that’s another chink from Mt TBR!
Until next time,