“‘Poirot,’ I said. ‘I have been thinking.
‘An admirable exercise, my friend. Continue it.’”
IT WAS CLEAR to me that I had to choose some form of Agatha Christie to write about. Her stories are ingenious, but choosing one was hard to do; I suppose I could liken it to choosing a favourite child. I don’t, however, have any children to make a real comparison. But even if I did, I could have easily chosen Death on the Nile or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to present to you, or another of her many famous tales, but obviously, I didn’t.
Without giving the plot away (don’t worry, I will never do that; I can’t stand it when someone reveals a plot to me), Peril at End House takes place at End House, believe it or not – a rambling old residence overlooking the Devon coast. The story follows its owner, Nick Buckley, a young woman who has escaped a number of murder attempts and entrusts the help of Monsieur Poirot and his ‘little grey cells’ to find out who would want the wealthy and beautiful young woman dead. Its premise is fairly simple – predictable, even – but the mystery is not. What I liked about Peril, one of the many Poirot whodunits, is that it is so unquestionably Christie-esque – perhaps more so than the above – yet it remains one of her lesser-known marvels. There’s a country house in her native Devon, an array of well-to-do suspects who each have some form of motive, a handful of murders (what else?) and an intricate plot revolved around that poisonous duo of love and money, which will no doubt keep you guessing throughout. Of course I’m a fan of Orient Express trains and corpses in libraries, but there was just something about Peril that I really liked. I didn’t figure out who the murderer was, or why they did it (I never really do), but I don’t care. In fact, sometimes I don’t like to be able to solve the mystery. I like the element of surprise, the ‘how the hell did I miss that!?’ moment during the last few pages, and for all my sleuthing efforts to be put to shame by Poirot showing me exactly what happened and how. However I’ve found that with some mysteries, the plots can get so convolutedly complex that my brain can’t cope (Sherlock springs to mind). My brain gives up and I end up distressed and confused by the end of it, taking to Wikipedia to suss out what happened. But Peril didn’t do that. It all clicked, it all made sense, it all slotted into place. This pleased me.
There’s not a huge amount I can say about this book, one of Agatha’s 80+ detective stories, because they all speak for themselves. The plots are devilishly clever, the characters believable, and the fact that she is the best-selling novelist of all time says something, too. They call Ms Christie the Queen of Crime and with stories like this, she can sit on the throne for as long as she likes.