Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
Opening sentence: “‘Do I remember the Crale case?’ asked Sir Montague Depleach.
Today would have been Agatha Christie’s 128th birthday, so it’s only fitting that I post about one of her marvelous books! Five Little Pigs sees legendary detective Hercule Poirot take on an interesting case. He gets a visit from Carla Lemarchant, a young woman whose mother was convicted of killing her father, 16 years previously. The thing is, just before she died, Carla’s mother, Caroline Crale, sent Carla a letter saying she was innocent and did not kill her husband, Amyas Crale. Carla believes her and asks Poirot to look into the case, even after all this time, and prove her mother’s innocence by finding the real killer.
As no challenge is too big for Monsieur Poirot, he accepts the case and narrows his gaze down to five key suspects who were all there on the day of the murder: Elsa Greer (Amyas’ muse, he was painting her portrait when he died), Philip Blake – Amyas’ best friend, Blake’s older brother Meredith, the governess Cecelia Williams and Caroline Crale’s half sister, Angela Warren. Poirot sets out to get an account of events from each person, even if many think he’s wasting his time, including Superintendent Hale, whom he questions to find out details of the original case:
‘Man you’re nuts! None of their stories are going to agree! Don’t you grasp that elementary fact? No two people remember a thing in the same order anyway. And after all this time! Why, you’ll hear five accounts of five separate murders!’
‘That’, said Poirot, ‘is what I am counting upon. It will be very instructive.’
Considering a large section of this book repeats the same plot points over and over, as each person gives their take on the day of the murder, you never once feel bored going over old ground. This is, after all, Agatha Christie, so it is beautifully and cleverly crafted and although all the accounts are similar in essence, it is the small details that differ and it is those that Poirot will use to discover if Caroline was truly guilty of her husband’s murder or not.
As with all of the Agatha Christie books I’ve read so far, I’m once again blown away by her ability to imagine such a unique twist on the murder mystery. Five Little Pigs ranks up there as a very enjoyable and ingenious Poirot story and the ending was not as straight forward as I thought I had guessed, which made it all the more satisfactory to read. Fully recommend this as a fresh take on a murder tale.