Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Hollow by Agatha Christie

With a new series of Poirot now screening on TV, I thought it timely to share my enjoyment for one particular Agatha Christie novel featuring her Belgian detective. The Hollow takes its name from the Angkatell’s genteel country house, where during a weekend hosted for their friends and relations, a murder takes place. No surprises there.

The victim is the handsomely brilliant Dr John Christow, shot dead by the pool just as Hercule Poirot arrives on the scene for luncheon. Standing over the dying doctor, clutching a gun is his mousy wife, Gerda. She has a motive to kill her husband, as he frequently treats her with ill-concealed exasperation and has recently become involved in a dangerous flirtation - to say nothing of his mistress, Henrietta, another guest at the Hollow.

Things are definitely not what they seem and there are motives and suspects by the truckload, as well as an assortment of guns hidden in the oddest places. It is just as well Poirot is on the spot to sort it all out, which he does in his usual fashion, chatting to suspects and putting his little grey cells into gear.

But what I really enjoy about this one is the cast of characters, particularly the snobbish and charmingly off-hand hostess, Lucy Angkatell. There’s also her ‘poor cousin’ Midge, making ends meet working in a posh dress shop where she is treated like a skivvy, and shamelessly theatrical Veronica Cray, Cristow’s old flame.

There are plenty of digs at the oddities of the leisured classes and some interesting thoughts on a woman’s place in a post-war Britain. All this is wrapped up in a very satisfying mystery loaded with red herrings and laced with gentle humour. Classic Christie at her best.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Hollow

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