Opening sentence: “Mrs Ariadne Oliver had gone with a friend, with whom she was staying, Judith Butler, to help with the preparation of a children’s party, which was to take place that same evening.”
I was drawn to this particular book in Agatha’s vast catalogue for two reasons. The first: timing (there’s nothing like a bit of a calendar themed blog post). The second: Ariadne Oliver. I first came across the character of Ariadne in Cards on the Table, (she was one of the guests at a gathering where the host is mysteriously murdered) and fell in love with her immediately. You see, she is a caricature of Agatha herself and that level of self depreciation is always going to be a hit with me. She plays a much bigger role in Hallowe’en Party than in Cards on the Table, I’m happy to report.
Ariadne is a author of murder mystery / crime fiction (obviously) and friends with Hercule Poirot. She is a guest at a Halloween party where a 13-year old girl is murdered (drowned in a bowl intended for bobbing apples), so she calls Poirot to come and investigate. Poirot puts his little grey cells to excellent use, introduces us to a range of potential suspects and gets his teeth into solving the crime.
The murder of a child is definitely one of the more grisly plots I’ve encountered from Agatha but if you’re expecting a more creepy or horror-led story, given the title, I’m sorry to disappoint you, the plot is a classic murder mystery that just happens to take place on Halloween. I very much enjoyed this Poirot outing though, yes, he does get obsessed with certain parts of the case and you’re not sure why – a little more insight into his thought process would have been good – and there were one or two moments towards the end that didn’t quite explain themselves in the narrative (plus Poirot develops a random obsession with his shoes) but aside from that, it had a great pace, kept me interested – I really did want to know who the murderer could possibly be out of the cast of characters we’d met – and every paragraph that featured Ariadne and her pithy, dry wit was a delight for me.
I listened to Hallowe’en Party on audiobook, narrated by the wonderful Hugh Fraser – his voice for Poirot is perfect and his other characters, equally as good. He’s my go-to for Agatha Christie audiobooks, I highly recommend him!
/ Originally published by Collins Crime Club in 1969
/ Audiobook narrated by Hugh Fraser