2008 TBR Challenge #1
At a seaside party, one of the guests collapses and dies. Foul play is considered; but with neither means nor motive apparent the idea is abandoned. One person is not convinced, and invites all the suspects to another dinner party. This time, however, it isn’t one of the guests who dies, and there is no question as to whether or not it was murder. Hercule Poirot, a witness to the first death, is persuaded into investigating by perennial observer Mr Satterthwaite, but is very much perplexed. For to account for the second death, and later the third, he must explain the first - a murder which no-one had a motive to commit, from which no-one benefited, and which no-one was physically able to carry out.
I undertook some idle speculation as to who the killer might be, and did wonder if it mightn’t have been X; but I didn’t make a firm guess, which was unfortunate because X turned out to have done it. I didn’t have a clue about the motive or the method, the latter of which was at the same time clever yet almost disappointingly simple. The mystery motive was ingenious, and I - like Poirot - had never seen it before (but did see it again on the ABC on Sunday night). Apart from that, the most interesting aspect of the book was the killer’s attempts to cover their trail from the second murder on. Since the second crime was committed offstage, the various suspects appeared mostly just at the beginning and when being interviewed in sequence prior to the denouement. Far from my favourite Christie; but still worth reading, for I’ve always liked Mr Satterthwaite.