Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot receives a letter from a man named Paul Renauld, telling him that his services are urgently
 required. However when Poirot, accompanied by Hastings arrives at Renauld's home in France, they find that he has been murdered.

I was struck that in the first part of the book Poirot really has very little to do. The case is already being handled by the magistrate, Monsieur Hautet, and the commissary Monsieur Bex. Both are glad to have Poirot there, and as they are competent and professional, he observes, only occasionally making his thoughts known. This satisfactory working arrangement is disturbed by the arrival from Paris of the star detective - Monsieur Giraud. Giraud is a young man whose ego even overshadows Poirot's. He is clearly threatened by Poirot's presence there and is rude and dismissive of him.

It is a complicated and puzzling case. The murdered man was a successful businessman, Canadian by birth,  with extensive interests in South America. He was married, with a grown up son Jack.  There was a suspicion that he was having an affair with Madame Daubreuil, who lived close by. Mme Daubreil has a beautiful daughter, Marthe, who Jack Renauld is in love with. His father had disapproved of this match. The finger of suspicion moves around and I have to admit that I got hopelessly confused.

Hastings gets himself into a spot of bother in this story. He has an eye for the ladies, and falls for a girl he meets on a train. I was slightly taken aback because she is only seventeen. I'm not quite sure how old Hastings is, but I'm sure that it's a good bit older than seventeen. However nobody else seems to raise an eyebrow about it so I assume things were different in the 1920s.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as the previous two. I felt that it jogged along quite steadily for half the book and then characters and information came flying at me until I didn't know where I was. Even after Poirot explained I didn't fully understand. I did have a cold while I was reading it, so I'll blame my slowness on that.

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