Mystery writer Ariadne Oliver has been co-opted into designing a murder game during a fair at Nasse House, though when she begins suspecting ulterior motives behind the whole thing, she implores her old friend Hercule Poirot to come down to the manor. But even though our Belgian friend turns up, he is unable to prevent the murder - and sure enough it's the victim in the murder game who turns out to be the real murder victim as well.
This story putters along nicely for a fair amount of the time, and as this was one title where I had actually forgotten everything except the set-up that I described in the paragraph above, I had a jolly good time reading this one. Poirot's investigations are a bit slow and it takes him some time to arrive at his final conclusions, but generally it moves along nicely.
But that's where the wheels start to come off, because the solution is as close to being unfair as Christie ever came. There are certainly clues scattered throughout the book, but they mainly relate to the disappearance of the lady of the manor and her identity. The only way for the reader to catch on to the identity of the true villain is to make assumptions from those clues, because they do not relate directly to the murderer.
A bit of a shame, because otherwise this felt like a good read. It's really just the final chapter that lets it down. So I'm in a sort of conundrum when it comes to rating this story - should the disappointment of that final chapter colour the rating of the whole thing or not? On the whole, I didn't feel that my time was entirely wasted - as I said, there are clues that can be reasoned out by the reader - so I'll be charitable and keep the rating on the higher side. 62 out of 100.
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