What do you love the most in Christie’s books? For me, it is the ‘a-ha’ moment in the end. I love the ways by which she surprises her readers at the end of her books. In fact, her ingenious ways of surprising readers certainly have no parallels. And, this is what you experience at the end of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas too. You get your ‘a-ha’ moment in the end. The book was also published as Murder for Christmas and A Holiday for Murder.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is a typical murder mystery of the looked room variety. The only difference is that you find lots of blood here. Yes, you witness a violent murder with lots of blood. In general, Christie did not use graphic language and gritty violence to describe murders in her novels. However, she made an exception here and there was a reason behind that. Christie’s brother-in-law James wrote to her and complained that murders in her novels were getting too refined or anaemic. He yearned for a good violent murder and to satisfy James Christie came out with a violent murder in this book.
The book takes the readers into a country house. This house belongs to an elderly Simeon Lee, a ruthless multi-millionaire. He is selfish and cruel, and almost all the members of his family hate him for that. This ruthless businessman unexpectedly invites each of his family members to celebrate Christmas at his home. The family gathers in the house on Christmas Eve. However, there is an atmosphere of tension in the air as most of the family members are not in good terms with each other. So, we see a family where all are at loggerheads with each other find themselves trapped together in a house. And, finally, the crime takes place. The elderly Simeon Lee gets murdered in his room and a substantial amount of uncut diamonds from his safe are also missing. Our beloved Belgian detective Hercule Poirot appears on the scene and the rest of the book deals with his investigation of this crime.
Let us turn our focus to other aspects of this book. This book features a large number of characters. And, a number of these remain poorly developed. However, this should not be surprising as sketching properly developed characters was not Christie’s forte. She presented her characters in the form of brisk and deft sketches and mainly focused on developing the plot. She used different characters to confuse the readers or to leave clues in her novels. In other words, we can say that most of her works were plot-driven, and not character-driven. And, the plot is just too delicious in the book under review.
The book has some clever twists to the plot and Christie’s classic revelation at the end. You may find the pace slacking in the middle part but it will not stop you reading as the events described in the book will keep forcing you reading. Writing style here, as is usually the case with most of Christie’s books, is sharp and clean.
It is because of books like these we love reading Agatha Christie. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In fact, reading Christie is always a delight. There is something wonderful in her writing that fascinates you.
Go and read this book if you have not read it so far. You are definitely going to enjoy it.