Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
by Agatha Christie
William Morrow, 1938
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I read this book as part of my church’s amazing book club, “Dusty Tomes”. It was our selection over the holidays, where many of us would be busy, running around, and likely stressed out enough as it is. So why not a charming holiday mystery novel?
And this book did not disappoint. It was my first Agatha Christie mystery ever, and it was so delightful and fun. It was all the things I imagined such a book would be in its psychology, humor, whimsy, and mid 20th-century sense of propriety and scandal.
She wrote this after receiving criticisms that her murders were getting to tame and understated, so she decided to give us a very bloody mess indeed. She obviously had a good time writing this. To wit: the original title for the novel was “Murder for Christmas”.
This book explores the Lee family, which is full of all the characters you would imagine: the dutiful son, the romantic mother’s boy, the prodigal rogue, and their various wives and relations. They’ve all arrived for Christmas at their family home led by the Scroogely, spiteful, and curmudgeonly family patriarch, Simeon Lee. It is in this setting that the crime in question unfolds with Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot.
Again, this was my first Christie novel and so it was also my first time with Poirot himself. He was not what I expected. He is not a Sherlock Holmes-style show-off who explains his every step and thought process. Nor is he the Columbo-style unassuming bumbling drunken master sort of detective.