Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dame Agatha II

Dead Man's Folly: M. Poirot  
★ ★ 

The book began w/ Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, the famous crime novelist, who is throwing a "Murder Fete" in which the original "victim" has been changed by circuitous request of an unknown person, calling M. Poirot asking for his help in preventing a murder....  Her intuition has told her that there will be a murder at the Fete she has planned, but she can't say whom or when or why.

A young girl (who is playing the victim at the fete) is really murdered it is found that she knew something she should not have... there are in succession the disappearance of the estate owner's wife and the murder of the ferryman (who also knew too much).

The former owner of the estate (who now lives in the front lodge), knows exactly what is going on, but feigns ignorance......

Let's see..... I didn't like the characters, they were flat & uninteresting, one never got to know most of them.... I didn't/couldn't really follow the clues... but I did know immediately where the body was buried, although I didn't know whose body it was. 

I also didn't like was all the self-talk & supposition of theories by M. Poirot & the police, I found it (to use one of Christie's favorite words) dull, dry, and most assuredly boring.
Death in the Clouds: M. Poirot  

★ ★ ★ ★

Also titled: Death in the Air

Imaging Hercule sleeping through a murder! Suffering from air-sickness, indeed he did.... 

Upon landing in London on a trip back from France, Madame Giselle, a famous & highly reputable Parisienne money lender is found to be dead in her seat of an apparent wasp sting, but what M. Poirot finds is a poisoned thorn w/ wasp colored fluff on the end.....

There were less than a dozen people on the flight, several of whom had dealings with Mdme. Giselle, and with that group a few who did not want to pay her back.  Mdme Giselle had her ways, as collateral she collected "information" on her clients, information that they would loathe to be known.  

Unfortunately upon her death, Le Surete was loathe to find that Mdme. Giselle's maid (per previous instructions) burned all of Mdme. Giselle's moneylending records and was not able to provide any information regarding possible enemies. However, left behind (quite by accident) was Mdme. Giselle's daily black book which contained appointments in code, this the maid handed over to M. Poirot....

I was not able to decipher the clues, so I was unable to figure out who murdered Mdme. Giselle. But there were many with motive and few if any had opportunity.... Afterall it was in a small enclosed space, with the weapon of choice a blowpipe thorn.

Yes, there was one mention of prejudice, a few Red Herrings, an overlooked passenger, and even a romance (that M. Poirot helped along).  But what I found unbelievable was the type of poison used.... Boomslang venom, really? That particular venom is not only very uncommon, but up until the very end, not one of the suspects seemed to have had access to it.
Evil Under the Sun: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

From the inside flap: "Young actress Arlena Stuart Marshall is brutally strangled on the cliffs (beach) of a seaside resort. Each of the guests at the Jolly Roger Hotel has a compelling motive, including Arlena's brand new husband (Kenneth Marshall), who seems to be the only man on the island not utterly distracted by her beauty. It is obvious to all that Patrick Redfern was violently smitten, much to the the distress of his own wife (Christine). And the women hotel guests saw the frivolous and flirtatious starlet in a rather different light. Only Hercule Poirot, who has come to the Jolly Roger for some much needed relaxation can sift through the murderous secrets and macabre clues to unravel the mystery at this secluded playground by the sea."

Included in the cast of characters are; Arlena's step-daughter Linda (whom she treats poorly & in return much hated), Rosamund Darnley (Arlena's husband's childhood friend whom still cares for him), Mr. & Mrs Gardner (American tourists), Major Barry (retired & gossip), Miss Emily Brewster (a curious but athletic spinster), Reverend Lane (an over zealous preacher, very much concerned with evil & women), and Horace Blatt (a self made man of dubious character).

One fated morning Arlena takes off alone (asking M. Poirot to not tell anyone where she has gone...but he knows she is set to meet someone), Christine and Linda go off to sit on the beach & sketch..... Patrick sets off w/ Miss Brewster for a row about the island and they come across the strangled Arlena.

Not only is there the murder down on the cove at the Jolly Roger (named for Captain Roger Angmering), there is blackmail, a boat w/ suspicious red sails, the smuggling of drugs, and the murder of a young woman a year previous.....

All this ties up quite neatly at the end, as at the end is when most of the clues & red herrings are revealed.
Dumb Witness: M. Poirot

★ ★ ★ ★

Also known as "Poirot Loses a Client".

You know, I just realised that many of Christie's are remarkably the same from book to book, as are the settings & circumstances..... as well as her prejudices. This time it was Greeks, Turks, & Argentines, which was mentioned more than once....  So I knocked off a star.

Aside from my little rant, I enjoyed the story. Aunt Emily is in her 70's and is not so well of health but is still as sharp as a tack and nobody's fool. She is the survivor of 3 sisters and a brother, all who lived well under their means, as does Aunt Emily.

Aunt Emily's two nieces, their husband & fiancee, and nephew come to visit, all looking for a handout.  Emily knowing that they should all still have money from their previous inheritance denies them all.

Aunt Emily's dog, Bob, is a very intelligent terrier and is very good at playing ball. He likes to take his ball to the top of the stairs and push it down to whomever is at the bottom... when they toss it back up to Bab, he catches it and tosses it back down.  

One evening close to Easter, Bob leaves his ball at the top of the stairs and Aunt Emily takes a tumble head first..... It is at this point she changes her will and writes to M. Poirot intimating she is in danger and requests his help......  It is several months later after Aunt Emily's family has once again visited (asking for money) and she falls ill and dies that M. Poirot receives her letter.

Suspects include: Nephew Charles (a bounder & a cad), Niece Natalie (a fast & loose woman who loves the finer things in life), Niece Bella (a dull woman & good mother married to the "Greek"), the Greek (a doctor of a charming & jovial nature), and Minnie (the most current of a long line of "spinster" companions).

Captain Hastings is along to help M. Poirot, but honestly, he is a right old ass and as obtuse as ever.  

I liked the story, I especially like Bob, and I "got" the clue as to who done it.
N or M: Tommy & Tuppence

★ ★ ★

WW II, Tommy &; Tuppence are older & retired.... bored at home, wanting something to work on when a mystery from the home office turns up.....  The man in charge wants to exclude Tuppence, so she "conveniently leaves" to visit a friend who has just rang-her-up.   In her absence Tommy is asked to help decipher a cryptic message that a dying agent passed on to them......  "N or M...  Sans Souci".  Upon discussion it is surmised that there is a German agent; either the infamous N or M in San Souci and so Tommy is sent to uncover and bring down the spy.

In San Souci... Tommy comes to stay in a respectable guest house and makes a fast acquaintance w/ Mrs. Blenkinsop (turns out to be Tuppence) and together they unravel the mystery of N or M.

The clues are there and I must say that I am delighted that more & more often I am able to figure out "who done it", as I have never been able to unravel a Christie until now.   Yes there was her blatant bigotry, right at the beginning about "Red Indians; The only good Indian is a.... Indian", but at least she didn't go on & on about that.....

This was easy to read and a bit of a drag...... not much action or murder until towards the end.....  Mostly supposition & snooping around....
At Bertram's Hotel: Miss Marple

★ ★ ★ ★

Bertram's Hotel is the paragon of good taste times gone by. At Bertram's Hotel all is "perfect" and the clientele is of the most upper class. At Bertram's Hotel one can satisfy their memories and their need for nostalgia. At Bertram's Hotel many people are recognized as friends from days past, but may not actually be.  At Bertram's Hotel all is not what it seems.........

Miss Marple is sent on a vacation by her niece.... a fortnight at Bertram's Hotel.  Sitting with Lady Selina Hazey, a friend from days gone by, it is innocently pointed out to Miss Marple that many people whom appear to be acquaintances from days past are not whom they appear to be and marked as as aging mind.

Other guests of the hotel include: Beth Sedwick (a famous adventuress), Elvira Blake (Bess's daughter, whom Bess gave up 2 weeks after her birth), Colonel Luscombe (Elvira's legal guardian), and Canon Pennyfather (who suffers from frequent memory lapses).  Then there are: Hotel Commissionaire Michael "Mickey" Gorman (Bess's first husband/Elvira's "unknown" father), Ladislaus Malinowski (a famous race car driver, Bess's former lover & Elvira's secret fiancee), Henree (the concierge who makes everyone's stay perfect to the last detail), and Chief Inspector "Father" Davy (who happens to believe everything is not quite as it seems at Bertram's Hotel).

Everything is going smoothly until the disappearance of Canon Pennyfather who never showed up to the conference in Lucerne that he was scheduled to attend and the murder of Mickey Gorman......

This was a very interesting plot and it was well written.....
A Caribbean Mystery: Miss Marple

★ ★ ★ ★

I liked this, actually.... The clues were right there in the open, with a few Red Herrings, one of a second murderer on the island.

Tim & Molly have recently purchased an island retreat from an older well liked & respected couple.....  Miss Marple is there on vacation, a gift from her nephew.....  She is listening to the old braggart Major Palgrave, reliving his past heroics & telling Miss Marple in a quite loud voice of a murderer he has come cross.....  As he begins to show Miss Marple  the photo, he suddenly startles and blanches....

Later Major Palgrave is found murdered by overdose of blood pressure medicine....  But the Major did not suffer from any type of illness, so Miss Marple begins to investigate....

Meanwhile, Molly seems to be having blackouts & sever depression, leading to an attempt of suicide.......  Then another murder takes place, a woman who looks very much Like Molly....

Interesting, the characters were interesting, especially the rich old man who takes a keen interest in Miss Marple when he learns how deceiving her looks are....

No slurs against Italians only Black people!  My, my, my aren't we progressive......

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