The classic crime stories by Agatha Christie


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During July the YA group‘s theme was classic crimes of the past and present, so I decided to read some novels by the most classic crime writer: Agatha Christie.

It’ unlikely to not know her most famous novels (like And then there were none and Murder on the Orient Express) and some of the characters she created, like Miss Marple or the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

I read some novels I did not read previously, and I think they are all good book to read during summer:

  • Death comes as the end
  • Three act tragedy
  • Five little pigs

Death comes as the end

This novel is not part of the series about famous characters made up by the author, it’s a stand alone (like And then there were none), but it is also a historical crime fiction, since it is set in Ancient Egypt (2000 BC).

Renisenb, after her husband’s death, comes back to the house of her father Imhotep, a wealthy priest. In the house the whole family lives, composed by Renisenb three brothers with their wives, the old and clever grandmother Esa, Hori the scribe and the servant Henet.

Imhotep, back from a trip, makes uproar in the house by presenting Nofret, a young concubine he is in love with. Nofret shows the family how much she can influence Imhotep and she does not hesitate in making herself hated by the other family members. One day, when Imhotep is away from home for a travel, Nofret is found dead under a cliff, and everything points to an accident, except the fact that in the following months other family members die. Imhotep thinks is a revenge of Nofret from the underworld, but the two clever people of the house – Esa and Hori – see a human hand behind the tragic events.

Death comes as the end is an unusual crime story in which clever characters have a marginal role, while the focus is mostly on young Renisenb thinking about her life and her expectations. It’s an interesting story, but it is most interesting the fragile balance in family relations, a structure destroyed by the arrive of Nofret.

Three act tragedy

Three act tragedy is one of the novel that have as detective Hercule Poirot, who here has not a central role in the story, since the investigation is carried on for most of the time by three other characters.

During a dinner hosted by Sir Charles Cartwright, a famous actor, the country vicar dies; the event for everybody is an accident since there are no sign that point out to murder.

Some months later, one of the people participating to the dinner dies in a party hosted in his own home, this time there are hints pointing out poison, but the standard inquire does not bring the police to anything relevant.

Young Egg, guest at both dinners, to get together with sir Charles – who she is in love with – asks him help in finding the murderer, since she is sure that the two deaths are related. Sir Charles, that time in Montecarlo for holiday, asks for help to his friend Mr. Satterthwaite (another guests to the first dinner). Lastly, Mr. Satterthwaite, meeting Poirot on a train, tries to rise the interest of the detective on the whole story.

The novel distinctive trait is the presence of three unlikely detective who carry on the investigation, and not Poirot only. The story is witty, but some elements in the ending are quite far from reality and unlikely in my opinion.

Five little pigs

In this novel Poirot has to work on the murder of the painter Amyas Crale, happened 16 years before and ended with the accusation of the painter’s wife, Caroline Crale.

The daughter of the couple, now a woman, asks Poirot help in discovering the truth, since she is convinced of her mother’s innocence.

Poirot goes to the old prosecutor, the policeman who dealt with the murder, and with the involved lawyers to begin understanding the past events. Then he goes to meet the five people who could have committed the murder (the five pigs of the title).

The peculiarity of this novel is the time span between the murder and the investigation, and this span allows the author to create for each character his/her evolution in time, and to create the adult version of the two young girls involved.

Another distinctive trait is the fact that the investigation is done also by reading the events reconstructions made by each of the five suspected people, documents that Poirot has to study to find out common points and discordant ones to find the murderer.

* Death comes as the end by Agatha Christie ★★★☆☆
* Three act tragedy by Agatha Christie ★★★☆☆
* Five little pigs by Agatha Christie ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in english

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