Status: Rearead. Permanent collection.
Genre: Murder mystery; detective fiction.
Did I mention I'm on an Agatha Christie kick? When I picked up Cards on the Table for the What's in a Name reading challenge it had been ages since I had read any Christie and I had forgotten how delightful her books are. So I decided to read some more Christie. Since I own three Avenel omnibus volumes of Christie's books, each with 5 novels in it, plus several single books, I have plenty to choose from and began with one I don't recall reading before: Thirteen at Dinner (aka Lord Edgware Dies).
One of the Avenel volumes contains Poirot stories, another Miss Marple stories, and the third is called Agatha Christie's Detectives, and that's what I'm making my way through right now. It contains one Miss Marple story, two Poirots, one Tommy and Tuppence story and one Superintendent Battle story. I have already finished two of the books, and have three left, all of them ones I don't think I have read before.
This particular story begins when Poirot receives a mysterious phone call from mystery writer Ariadne Oliver, and rushes to rural Devon to see what she wants. She has devised a murder mystery game for a fête, but feels very uneasy and has a distinct feeling she is being manipulated into something and so has called on Poirot to investigate. Her uneasiness turns out to have been well founded when a teenage girl who was playing the victim in the game turns up murdered and Mrs. Oliver's hostess disappears, but both Poirot and the police are stumped as to both the motive and the killer. It takes Poirot several weeks of puzzling over the facts and various small incidents and comments before he reaches a conclusion and reveals the identity of the killer.
This is far from being one of Christie's best. The plot is contrived and the characters are underdeveloped and recycled and so are some of the plot elements. Even Poirot fails to sparkle. The story doesn't have the lightness of the other Christie books I read recently, and sort of clunks along. There are even some red herrings that are never properly explained away.
Conclusion: Kind of Blah, but not so much that I regret reading it.