As the Agatha Christie collection continues to scrape the dregs from the bottom of the huge barrel that is the complete works of Agatha Christie, we seem to be churning through the short stories. I will admit that I’ve never been as big a fan of her short stories as I have of her longer novels. They’re not unenjoyable. But the experience is very short. You start reading, a minute or two into it, things start getting convoluted. At about the seven or eight minute mark, you think you know how it all works, only to be bamboozled by a twist, and then the real ending is unveiled. The end, just on 10 minutes. (Depending on reading speed, of course.)
It’s not quite the same as the dazzling web of red herrings, misdirection and other stuff that can go on in her stories. (However, that said, in a lot of her novels, she would often put the murder at the beginning, and then have 10 or so tedious chapters consisting of suspects being cross-examined until finally the book would pick up pace in the last third.)
Which brings us to Poirot Investigates, which fits perfectly into the 10-minute model I explained above. I’m not sure whether they were intended to be published in a close-together fashion like this, because they have a lot of repetition of key ideas (Poirot boasting, Hastings thinking he’s got it all worked out but getting it completely wrong; Poirot dropping hints that Hastings is an idiot; Hastings getting offended and writing stuff like, “I really think Poirot has too little faith in my abilities” despite the fact we all know he has none). But there’s enough variety in here (it’s not all murders) to make it an enjoyable (but fluffy) read. So I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.