1930: Poirot is returning home after a lunch out when he accosted
by an angry woman. She charges him of having written her a letter
accusing her of having murdered a man called Barnabus Pandy,
of whom she says she has never heard. Shortly after this, a
young man arrives complaining of having received an identical
letter. Poirot has to discover if the murdered man truly exists
and tease apart a complex puzzle with its roots in the past.
There is only one Agatha Christie and she was one of the best
selling novelists of all time. Trying to emulate her style,
plotting, and characters is a daunting task, and I confess to
being less than thrilled with the first two books in this series.
However, this third offering delivers a real page-turner of
a plot. which had me guessing until the end and unwilling to
put the book down.
There is a whole trawler load of red herrings
in here and some rather interesting characters that mostly
rise above the stock variety, albeit not too much in some
cases. This is very much a book where the plot is what carries
the reader along and stays in the memory, although Agatha
herself would have told the tale in far fewer pages. Poirot
is a bit more like the original this time, and the tale is
narrated, as usual, by Inspector Catchpool, a man reminiscent
of Hastings, who still seems oddly naïve and unsuited
for his career choice. I applauded the way the ending was
unexpected, however. And despite the book’s length I
wasn’t bored once and will certainly be reading book
#4. This series had a somewhat shaky start but is improving
dramatically and, considering the big shoes Ms Hannah is trying
to fill, this is pretty impressive.