2020-02-17

Agatha Christie 100 - Peril at End House

After a couple of years with no Poirot, the little Belgian returned with this novel.


Poirot and Hastings are relaxing at a seaside resort, where they make the acquaintance of Nick Buckley, a young woman living in the titular End House. It turns out that Nick has been the target of several suspicious accidents that nearly led to her death. Poirot vows to investigate and finds several suspicious characters in the coterie surrounding Nick.

This was written as Christie was truly becoming the Queen of Crime that she would forever be known as. It's a very fine example of a fair play mystery novel. Its chief drawback is that the main misdirection in this novel is a variation of a kind that she'd been using in every novel since at least 1929's The Seven Dials Mystery, and the astute reader should really tumble on to what she's doing here.

But excepting that quibble, this novel really shows why Christie became the front runner in the genre. There are several small touches where Christie bamboozles the unwary reader.

Hastings is not quite as obtuse as he was in the 20s novels, though I'm aware that that doesn't say much. At least here he doesn't misinterpret every single detail in the case.

I'm going to rate this a 72 out of a 100. It's a great Christie novel, but there are still even better things to come.

1933 1933 1970
2002 2014

The persons in charge of the Swedish edition probably had the same misgivings about Christie's early mystery titles as I do (what's an End House and who cares?), and therefore changed it completely. Badortsmysteriet simply means The Seaside Resort Mystery. I will happily admit that the change was not for the better...

There aren't that many editions of this novel in Swedish, but it's interesting to note that there were two very different editions in the first year. The first one isn't particularly good - another example of the thinking that just having the title plastered all over the cover is good enough. (At least it has a pistol to show that it's a mystery.) The second is a little better, except for two facts: a) There's no train in the novel, and b) the exact same cover had already been used for The Mysterious Affair at Styles!

The 1970 edition - which I own - is from the Zebra series and looks suitably sinister. For once, it simply looks as if it was stolen from Fontana, it's apparently an original creation. I suppose it's intended to show the murdered Maggie Buckley, though the position of the body makes it almost seem as if she is involved in a dervish dance...

This is the only novel I have two copies of. The second one is the 2002 edition, and the reason I have this one as well is that this was in fact the first translation that wasn't abridged in any way! Too bad that they decided to use a cover featuring one of the dolls from Pretty Little Liars.

The latest edition, on the other hand, actually looks pretty good. It evokes that seaside ambiance, and introduces something sinister with the wasp (though there is no such animal in the novel). And I like that they again used a part of the image as a typographical detail. I'm starting to warm to these covers, aren't I?

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