I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
When Alice Asher is murdered in Andover, Hercule Poirot is already on to the clues. Alphabetically speaking, it's one down, twenty-five to go.
There's a serial killer on the loose. His macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway guide beside each victim's body. But if A is for Alice Asher, bludgeoned to death in Andover; and B is for Betty Bernard, strangled with her belt on the beach at Bexhill; then who will Victim C be?
I read this book to fill the 13 square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I chose this Christie novel, the thirteenth Hercule Poirot, for this Bingo square and I was not disappointed. It was an entertaining novel and I enjoyed Poirot’s deft solution.
Two things I noticed: first, after a summer of reading Sherlock Holmes, I couldn’t help but realize what a Watson-like role is played by Hastings in this novel. Poirot actually refers to Holmes a couple of times, as when he is gently rebuking Hastings at one point:
”Yes, the clue--it is always the clue that attracts you. Alas that he did not smoke the cigarette and leave the ash, and then step in it with a shore that has nails of a curious pattern.”
Secondly, I was struck by the number of times that a novel from 1936 states as given some of the guidelines set down by the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit:
”He acts as the writer of the letter would act--goes at once to the police--pushes himself to the fore--enjoys his position.”
Someone at some point also says, “If you make it public, you’re playing ABC’s game.” I hadn’t realized how much received wisdom was codified by the FBI.
I always enjoy Dame Agatha--even the books that aren’t her greatest always give me something interesting to think about. This one was fun.