Who wants to talk about murder?!
A sequel to The Mysterious Affair at Styles, this book once again stars Hercule Poirot and his old friend Hastings. After Hastings meets a young girl on the train, whom he calls Cinderella, Poirot receives an urgent letter asking for his help. By the time the pair arrive to answer the call, however, the letter’s mysterious sender has already been murdered! Now Poirot and Hastings must once again solve the crime. But when the truth of the mystery places newfound love under suspicion, will Hastings be able to see it through?
To be honest, I don’t find the mystery of this book to be all that engaging. It keeps throwing new information at you, constant twists and turns, that make the whole thing rather muddled and hard to keep track of. Partway through, it takes a left turn and focuses on an entirely different mystery that’s linked to the first one! The whole thing is really annoying to solve because of how damn convoluted it is!
Thankfully, the conflict of the characters helps escalate this story into greatness.
In most detective stories, the detective and his assistant are always on the same page. Maybe not intellectually, but usually morally. Here, though? The mystery drives a wedge between papa Poirot and the ever-loyal Hastings. This puts Hastings in a very interesting character predicament; how can he protect the person he loves, who is more than likely guilty, while not throwing away justice or betraying his friend?
This also makes Poirot a bit of a mystery himself. What does he plan to do? He seems calm, so maybe he isn’t going to work against Hastings? As per usual, he seems to know something that our perspective character doesn’t. This creates a nice sense of tension; you’re not quite sure on which side of the conflict Poirot will fall until the end.
As for all the new characters introduced in this story… meh. They’re alright and they work really well within the story itself. But none of them are all that interesting or memorable. They’re likable enough to sympathize with, but not enough to remember. Like walking past an upset kid in a school hallway.
Sorry, was that metaphor too personal?
All in all, this is a decent story. The mystery itself is only decent, but the character conflicts involved make it a much more engaging read. If you’ve got an afternoon or two to spare, I’d recommend giving it a read. It’s definitely a strong Christie novel.