“You tell your lies and you think nobody knows. But there are two people who know. Yes- two people. One is le bon Dieu - and the other is Hercule Poirot.”
Poirot graced so many Agatha Christie novels that there's bound to be misses as well as hits. This one is in the middle - a good book but not one of the best with him in it. I liked it but didn't love it. I'd recommend starting with others starring the detective first.
Christie whips out intriguing characters that have a richer background of emotion in this one compared to some of her other works - an almost saintly, now rich young woman Katherine Grey who has a quiet humor and little bit of mischief about her. Besides her, there is a controlling and wealthy father of the victim who helps Poirot (kind-of) in the investigation. These two stand out as well done characters to complement the detective, who I usually adore. The issue is here he faded in the background and something about Poirot just felt 'off.' I'm not sure what it was, but he just wasn't as likable this time.
I can't complain much about characterization, and the story itself was complex. Christie brought into play jewel theft and having to solve different issues while the reader sorts out whether it will lead to one villain with one crime or several villains with different crimes and a big coincidence.
It's not easy to guess the mystery as the writer leads the reader astray from original assessments, and there's more to this story than a simple layer underneath - the ending wraps this up well and in a satisfying matter. The issue is that it's just not that interesting following the story. I grew bored several times and struggled with so many points of view shifts from characters I cared little about.
Overall it was a good story bogged down with too much misdirection. Had the author put Poirot more into the limelight and had him discover these sideplots rather that keep showing them through other small character's eyes, then maybe it would have been more intriguing. It showed in this book she was kind of tired of the detective that made her so famous.
Unlike some of her other works, the crime doesn't stay in the scene. This year I had the joy of reading Murder on the Orient Express, where the crime happened on a train they stayed trapped on. My other favorites by her include Death on the Nile where they solve a murder on a boat, and 'And then there were none', where the group solves murder in a claustrophobic feel while they're trapped on an island. Here the train is visited only briefly and people travel all over the place afterward. This hurt the tight-knit mystery feel some of her better books hold.
“I do not argue with obstinate men. I act in spite of them.”