Sunday, 12 January 2014

Murder Mysteries: Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie


The clues undoubtedly lead us to the fact that Curtain: Poirot's Last Case is a humdinger of a mystery novel. It is certainly among Christie's best.

More than 20 odd years post their first appearance at Styles (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) -  Poirot and Hastings reunite in literary convenience at Styles - which is now a faded hotel.The now middle-aged Hastings (also the Watson-like story narrator) is disheartened to see his old friend in a wheelchair. But his mood changes when the detective soon makes his purpose clear - He is here to hunt down a killer. One who has killed so frequently and expertly, that no doubt has been raised against the person, ever. 

Frustrating as it is for Hastings, Poirot won't reveal the murderer's identity. Instead, Poirot wants his friend to be his 'eyes and ears'. So Hastings meets up with other denizens of Styles, including the aged owners, a nervous bird watcher,lady with a shady past, a rich lonely man and finally Hastings' younger daughter, her employer, his invalid wife and a nurse. Among this mix of visitors, Hastings wonders who will kill and why. Time is fast running out, as Poirot points out, a killer who has killed many will kill again.           

There is a continuous anticipation running through the book. This is no routine mystery where the crime is done and the suspects are questioned. Like many great crime novels, various shades, characters, atmospheres inhabit these pages. 

Yet what is a murder mystery without a satisfactory tying of the threads? Christie simply blows us way in that department.There couldn't be a more devastating full stop to what is a senile detective's last case. 

An exceptional treat for all mystery novel readers - Poirot fans or not. I may yet stumble to say - Those who have known Poirot and his peculiar ways may end up enjoying this one a bit more.


(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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