Guests gather in the home of retired actor Sir Charles Cartwright for a dinner party when the least likely of victims turns up dead. No one is even sure whether the vicar was indeed murdered or to what purpose, but when another death occurs in similar circumstances as the first, Hercule Poirot finds that retirement isn’t enticing enough to keep him from one last mystery.
This is my first time reading one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries and the experience was a bit different than I imagined. Poirot played a much smaller role than I thought, and I am curious whether this book is the exception or if his character typically plays such a small part in the narrative. The majority of the story places the reader in the head of Mr. Satterthwaite, a particular gentleman with decided opinions on everything from women’s dress, to courtship, to a middling view of our favorite detective, Hercule Poirot. Sattertwhaite is a little pompous and self-important at times, so it was amusing to see him come to similar conclusions about Poirot as I came to about him.
Christie has a talent for dialogue and for evenly advancing the plot at a nice pace. The number of characters to keep up with initially made for distracted reading, but there are ample opportunities to see the characters and become more clear on who they are. Christie never fails to amaze me with her knack for making the most ordinary people seem sinister. I was reminded again by this engaging mystery of just how often I am left with a creeping sense of unease when reading her books. I guessed the murderer but not the motive in this tricky mystery. Recommended.