There’s nothing like a comfort read at this time of year, and my go-to for that is always Agatha Christie. As there are so many Hercule Poirot murder mysteries, it can be tricky to know which one to read next. So I just picked one totally at random. The Clocks wasn’t an Agatha Christie book I’d heard of before, making this a very hit and miss approach (as not every Poirot book has been one I’ve enjoyed…) but, you know, you have to live life on the edge sometimes.
Opening sentence: The afternoon of the 9th of September was exactly like any other afternoon.
Tick tock, tick tock…
The Clocks gets its title from a very unusual crime scene. Miss Pebmarsh lives at 19 Wilbraham Crescent and one day, upon returning home from the shops she discovers a girl from a typing agency, Sheila Webb, along with an unknown man who has been murdered, in her house. Not only that – six clocks have suddenly appeared around the room that were not there before. All set to 4:13. What does this mean? The scene is set for a tantalising mystery to be revealed.
Where is Poirot?
Billed as a Poirot tale, the famous Belgian detective doesn’t actually make an appearance until almost half way through the book, instead it is mainly narrated by Mr. Colin Lamb and Inspector Hardcastle, who are investigating.
When the case gets a bit tricky, Colin runs the facts past an old family friend that lives in London – Hercule Poirot. He also sets him a little challenge: can Poirot really solve a case from the comfort of his armchair, as he has so nonchalantly claimed?
Seeing as Poirot doesn’t have a lot on at the moment, he puts his little grey cells to action and – I don’t think this is a spoiler given who we are talking about – of course cracks the case before Lamb and Hardcastle. Not that he reveals the details to them without making them do the work first.
Crime stories to add to your TBR
Poirot also gives us a wonderful chapter on his favourite crime writers and stories – some real such as The Leavenworth Case and The Mystery of the Yellow Room and some fictional crime writers such as the great Ariadne Oliver (Agatha Christie’s fictional version of herself, basically) and Garry Gregson. There is a point to this initially baffling segue (that will become clear), as well as it being a lovely little chat with Poirot.
The magic of Poirot
While there were are a few plot points that were a bit too convenient for my liking, what I enjoyed about The Clocks was the Poirot character study. He doesn’t play much of an active role in the case (well, apart from solving it…) but it’s the way his character is used in the story that works so well.
This little story oozes charm, plot-wise it’s not the strongest, but Agatha’s trademark wit is here and in regards to spending time in Poirot’s company, it’s a good one. I would advise that you read this later into your Poirot journey. This is the 37th book in the sequence and that is reflected in that an understanding of him prior to reading The Clocks will really let you get the benefit of this novel.
- Get your copy here
- First published in 1963
- 288 pages
- My Rating: