After my recent Alex Cross-athon, I felt I needed a palate cleanser. And what better, than to re-read some old favorites, by the grande dame of mystery herself, Agatha Christie? I first discovered Christie when I was about 10 or 11, prowling through my mother’s bookcases for something to read. I guess I had exhausted whatever I had taken home from the Bookmobile – probably Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins or a collection of folktales. The first Christie I read was The Moving Finger. I still have my mom’s paperback, with its lurid purple cover illustration.
Cards on the Table, 1936 – In this clever book Christie pits four sleuths vs. four presumed murderers. The mysterious Mr Shaitana sets up a strange (and of course dangerous) dinner party. He invites Poirot, his friend Colonel Race, and mystery author (and Christie stand-in) Ariadne Oliver to join him on Team Sleuth. The other four guests are Dr Roberts, Mrs Lorrimer, explorer Major Despard, and a young woman named Anne Meredith. During dinner Shaitana talks about murder and its various methods. After the meal they divide into two groups to play bridge. At the end of the night Poirot and Race discover that Shaitana is dead – stabbed with his own ornamental knife. The book uses the game of bridge as a clue to each suspect’s personality, and the detectives split up, along with Superintendent Battle, and each focus on one suspect to determine if they were, as Shaitana suspected, “successful murderers,” in their past.
Christie always plays fair with her readers, which becomes quite clear on a re-read. I have quite enjoyed this mini Christie vacation and feel that I can go ahead and read some other books on my to-read list – or maybe squeeze in a few more Poirots before the holidays.
You can read more of my reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e