Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
by Agatha Christie
It seems odd to say it, but it was very comforting to read this murder mystery. I read quite a lot of Agatha Christie novels when I was in my middle school years. I never forgot the highly dramatic production of The Witness for the Prosecution our high school put on or the production of The Mousetrap that I was in. (Of course, I played the old lady, Mrs. Boyle.)
Christie’s standalone novels The Secret of Chimneys and They Came to Baghdad were a couple of my favorites but I also greatly enjoyed her little old knitting granny detective, Miss Jane Marple, and Hercule Poirot mysteries.
Hercule Poirot is Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective with the big mustache who uses his “little grey cells” to solve mysteries. They are usually murders, as in The Murder on the Orient Express. (I highly enjoyed and recommend the current movie from Kennth Branagh, by the way.)
Hercule Poirot, and behind him, the author Agatha Christie, were students of human nature and what people were likely to do or could not help doing.
In this case, Hercule is visiting his friend in the country, Colonel Johnson, Chief Constable of Middleshire, when Simeon Lee is murdered in his house.
Simeon Lee has called his children home for Christmas. Alfred Lee and wife Lydia live in the house with Simeon Lee already. David Lee and his wife Hilda arrive along with George Lee, M.P. for Westeringham, and his wife Magdalene. The black sheep of the family, Harry Lee, arrives as well. Pilar Estravados has also been invited to take up residence at the house, possibly long term. She is Simeon’s granddaughter, daughter of the deceased Jennifer and her father, who died in prison. Of course there are the usual house staff, Tressilian, and valet, Horbury. We also have an unexpected visitor in Stephen Farr, who is the son of Simeon’s partner in South Africa. He just happened to be passing through and called on Simeon then was asked to stay for Christmas.
Yes, Simeon Lee has called his family home for Christmas, but it isn’t a family reunion. He’s a manipulator who loves to make trouble. He has pushed someone over the line this time, but who?
There are some very nice little twists and turns with this case and I’m not sure it can be figured out until Poirot gives his reveal of the facts we are missing at the end of the book, but I enjoy being along for the ride. It is a different time and place but the character of people is not all that different. Christie, and Poirot, make it fun to examine the motivations.