The book that I am going to review today is After the Funeral by Agatha Christie. Richard Abernethie, a wealthy man, dies. After the funeral, his relatives gather in his estate as his will was going to be read. Unexpectedly Richard’s scatterbrain sister Cora makes a statement: “It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?” This wild statement creates chaos among the gathering. Was this a vague accusation? Or, was Richard Abernethie really murdered? A seed of doubt starts to germinate in the mind of the people gathered there. This especially troubles elderly family solicitor Entwistle. And, next day, Entwistle receives a call informing him that Cora is found murdered. Desperate to learn the truth behind both these deaths, the family solicitor calls a detective to reveal the truth. The investigation of these murders makes the rest of the book.
The book is set in the post-World War II period but the setting feels Victorian.
The book has a large number of interesting characters. Readers are introduced to a large number of these at the beginning of the book itself. Getting acquainted with these characters takes time and all get confusing for the readers. Additionally, this distracts you from the main storyline. This is what happened to me. I got confused and thought a number of times to dump the book and pick up another one. Nonetheless, I kept reading and gradually the plot and all these characters started to make sense. And, then there was no stopping as the intriguing plot kept my attention till the end. The book under review is not the only book where we find ourselves distracted and confusing at the beginning of the book. In fact, this is generally what you face in a number of Christie’s books. However, tolerating the initial chaos created by the author eventually seems worth the wait.
The book has all the elements of a typical murder mystery: a dead rich man, lots of money, a will, plenty of greedy relatives, an unwarranted statement and an ideal setting for a perfect murder mystery. A number of clues have been beautifully hidden in the plot. These clues sometimes guide you and sometimes misguide you. This forces you to pay attention again and again as you do not want to miss even a minute detail. The presence of a large number of characters means the red herrings are also well-stocked. And, this is what you want in a murder mystery. Isn’t it?
The book features our beloved Hercule Poirot. He appears in the second half of the book and starts his investigation. As is generally the case with Poirot books, here also, Poirot induces the people to talk to solve this crime. To some, his methods of deduction might seem boring but, for me, this is what makes him a lovable character. I love his idiosyncrasies and his methods of deduction. In this book too, he does not disappoint you.
All Christie fans should read this book. Books like these prove that she was a master mystery writer.