2020-10-16

Agatha Christie 100 - Hallowe'en Party

Poirot encroaches on Miss Marple's territory, the village mystery, in this, Christie's final 60s novel.



At a party for kids and teenagers, 13-year-old Joyce Reynolds is eager to impress the visiting celebrity, stating that once she saw a murder. The others profess not to believe her, but when she turns up dead later, the visiting mystery writer, a certain Ariadne Oliver, takes her story to her old friend, Hercule Poirot. And now he needs to sort out not only who killed Joyce but also which murder it was indeed she saw...

I found this story pretty good, all things said. Like several other Christie novels, this is another mystery that harks back to an older crime which affects the events of the story. Also like many late career Christie novels, it's a bit woolly and long-winded at times, but it's less annoying here - or perhaps I've just become used to these longueurs by now (always a hazard when reading an author's works chronologically). But there are genuinely some good bits in this mystery, and there's a particularly great bit of misdirection when a vase is dropped. 

During Christie's last 20 or 30 years of writing, Poirot was often sidelined, but in this one he is front and centre of this story, which is always a good thing. 

This story is partly set in a particular garden, which confused me, because I'd always associated the memory of that setting with Elephants Can Remember. This means that I have no idea whatsoever what will happen in that novel. Ah well, I suppose it's never bad to go into a book not having any idea what it's about...

There are a few things during the final revelations in this novel that should have been mentioned earlier on, but on the whole this is an enjoyable read, although clearly not up to the level of Christie's peak writing. I'll award this a 44 out of 100.

1971 1984

Two Swedish editions for this title, and again it's been a long time since the last one was published... At the time this was first published, Hallowe'en was almost unheard of in Sweden - the Americanisation and commercialisation of Sweden hadn't come very far then - so instead of using the American name for the holiday we used the most similar one we had, resulting in a title that would be something like Murder on All Hallows' Day, were it directly translated into English. At least we got the word "murder" into the title.

Both covers focus on the apples, which is fair since they belong to the most memorable scene in the novel. The first one features that very scene and an outline of Joyce as she's in the middle of the game of bobbing for apples. A pretty good cover, all things said. 

The second cover from the mid 80s is a bit more sparse, just an apple with a worm in it. I would like this one as well - but the typography is really ugly and the colours don't contrast very well.

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