Thirteen at Dinner by Agatha Christie

(Hercule Poirot, #9)

Poirot had been present when Jane bragged of her plan to 'get rid of' her estranged husband. Now the monstrous man was dead. And yet the great Belgian detective couldn't help feeling that he was being taken for a ride. After all, how could Jane have stabbed Lord Edgware to death in his library at exactly the same time she was seen dining with friends? And what could be her motive now that the aristocrat had finally granted her a divorce?

 “Do you know my friend that each one of us is a dark mystery, a maze of conflicting passions and desire and aptitudes?”

Also known as Mr. Edgegrave dies.

This one isn't as good as most of Christie's other books are, especially with Hercule Poirot as the detective, but it is readable. It is told through the narrative of Hastings, of whom I'm only a mild fan. He is a typical sidekick similar to Watkins, where he gets much wrong, but he doesn't have much about him that stands out.

Poirot and Hastings are brought together to an actress who fully admits she'd kill her husband, and seeks their help on getting a divorce so she can marry even higher up the social ladder. Clearly not a likeable type of sort, I enjoyed Poirot's observations about character types and mapping out their actions from that. The mystery begins when the husband IS murdered, but Poirot is further confused when he finds out that the husband had completely agreed to give the suspect a divorce and that she had no reason to enlist their help in the first place.

As a mystery it works because there are surprises that don't add up for the story and how it unravels, there are multiple red herrings to cast suspicious light on, and the characters personalities are not the traditional sorts so it's like a hollywood type drama.   On the other hand its a bit laggy compared to some of her other stuff, and I felt further detached because of the viewpoint it was told through. A lot the story was told through back and forth conversation and not as much internal monologue.

The ending was a small surprise and I enjoyed it, but I grew restless in other parts. It was cool this was a slice of 1930's London and the rich, glitzy, everyone-has-a-servant side of things. Even if the buildup was a little mediocre at times, the ending was a whopper of cleverness which makes it completely worth a read.

As an oddball thing, Poirot does drop a racist remark:

"You observed without doubt that she is a Jewess? . . . Love of money might lead such a one from the prudent and cautious path."

Was this from Agatha's perspective, the time it was written, the time she came from, or to paint another unusual brush of Poirot's somewhat out there personality?

   Book Quotes:

“And that very same evening - that very same evening - Lord Edgware dies. Good title that, by the way. Lord Edgware Dies. Look well on a book stall.” 

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