Agatha Christie 100 - One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

Another title derived from a nursery rhyme, though the rest of this Poirot novel really doesn't make much use of that rhyme.

Poirot has a dentist's appointment and while he's in the waiting room reflects on the other waiting visitors. Having endured the ordeal, he is surprised when he learns that his dentist is found murdered later the same day. When one of the other visitors also turns up dead, and yet another one disappears, Poirot has a baffling case to investigate - and there are connections to politics and spies...

My feeling is that this is one of Christie's lesser known stories, never much talked about, but on the whole this is a pretty good one. The main drawback is that there is just one main obfuscation by Christie, and if you see through that you won't find it hard to start pointing your suspicions a certain way. But Christie does well with her mystification and there's quite a lot happening here, keeping the reader's attention and making them focus their attention at the wrong places.

While Christie had started moving towards more character driven material with her last few novels, this seems like a couple of steps back in that respect, which isn't necessarily an issue - personally, I quite like this one. It's good to see Japp again, and Poirot's valet George has a fairly large role.

I'd give this a 75 out of a 100. While not one of Christie's most celebrated stories, it's still a solid mystery and the way the facade falls off the villain towards the end is rather chilling.

1941 1961 1973
1988 1997 1999

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe is another nursery rhyme virtually unknown in Sweden, so it's not strange that the publishers decided to change the title (and since the rhyme isn't actually used in the story, who can blame them?). They manage to keep some connection with the rhyme, though - Skospännet simply means The Shoe Buckle. While not one of the more famous Poirot titles, it's still managed to get quite a few editions in Sweden.

What's interesting here - at least to me - is that I've hardly seen any of these editions and their covers previously, so that was a bit of a treat while researching this novel. The first cover from 1941 isn't bad. It's quite understandable to focus on the shoe and the buckle. Again, I'd have liked it better if they used the entire front page for the image. But still a pretty nice cover.

The Zebra edition from 1961 looks like some kind of pop-art - those fingers look horribly gnarly, wouldn't you agree? And I don't really see where the camera comes in. This has to be my least favourite of these covers. Meanwhile, the copy I own is the only cover that I'd seen before, and that is the 1973 one. I like it - full focus on the dentist's chair and the murdered man lying prone behind it.

Leslie Quagraine got to paint two different covers for this title. The one from the late 80s is the one I like least of the two, but it's still quite effective. The shoe buckle here looks more like a belt buckle to me... His second cover is the one from 1997. Again a lot of focus on the teeth, and I kind of like the minimalist approach here.

The final cover is from another large print edition, and has another variant of the shoe buckle. It all looks fairly cheap, to be honest.

1 comment:

  1. I quite like the 97 - it doesn't exactly match the book but it does hit on the aspect of the book I remember most (Poirot's dread of the dentist).