This book collects every Hercule Poirot short story. Most of these are under twenty pages, and could be read in a few spare moments but there are four or five that could be considered novellas.
Polirot’s career in short fiction was far shorter than in novel-length works, with most of the short stories completed in a stretch from 1923-1940. The stories show progress the evolution of Poirot as a character and Christie as a writer. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not a bad story in this collection. However, the earliest stories are fun, diverting and very well-done puzzle mysteries reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes with Captain Hastings filling the role of Poirot’s Watson. Twelve of the final thirteen stories comprise The Labours of Hercules which manages to mix some delightful comedy, social commentary, and some warmth (such as the delightful “The Arcardian Deer”) as Poirot tries to perform his own twelve labors just as the original Hercules did.
In addition, I adored “The Theft of the Royal Ruby,” a wonderful Poirot mystery set at Christmastime. It has superb atmosphere throughout. The final tale in the boook, “Four and Twenty Blackbirds,” is a brilliantly crafted mystery with a very surprising conclusion.
The only criticism I have is that this only includes the published short stories. Two unpublished Christie shorts were found in 2004 and given an audiobook release a few years back and it would have been nice to see them in this book.
Still, even with just the published stories, this book is an absolute treasure, collecting fifty adventures of one of fiction’s greatest detectives in a single volume.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0
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