This year I decided to do the Agatha Christie reading challenge and Lord Edgware Dies ticks the box for the March theme: ‘a story starring a society figure’. Whenever I start a new Agatha book it’s a mix of trepidation (will I like it?) and wonder (how does she keep thinking of these ingenious plots??)
I have to admit that I didn’t actually do the February read for the challenge as I started it and just wasn’t feeling it… Life is definitely too short for reading books you’re not enjoying, even if they are part of a reading challenge! But this was not the case with Lord Edgware Dies: I thoroughly enjoyed this, the ninth Poirot story.
Opening sentence: The memory of the public is short.
Who is Lord Edgware?
Narrated by Captain Hastings, Poirot is asked by actress and society figure, Jane Wilkinson to help get her husband, Lord Edgware to agree to a divorce. She desperately wants to marry someone else and leave her unhappy marriage.
So, when Lord Edgware is found murdered, suddenly things are looking up for Jane. She is also, unfortunately a key suspect due to being spotted at the scene of the murder. BUT she does have over 10 witnesses who can attest that she was actually at a dinner party when the murder took place. So, where was she really?
The murderer, see you, Hastings, is as cunning as a tiger and as relentless.
This is a multi-layered murder mystery. Agatha introduces the characters, clues and red herrings at a perfect pace, so you’re left guessing right up until the end.
Chief Inspector Japp makes an appearance too, as he is leading the case. This gives a very entertaining dynamic as Poirot does not rate Japp’s love of the literal when it comes to solving crime.
‘The police are always made out to be as blind as bats in detective stories,’ said Japp with a grin.
Hercule Poirot at his best
I really enjoyed the portrayal of Poirot in Lord Edgware Dies. This is a really meaty story for him – he appears through a lot of it (as opposed to say, The Hollow, where he felt more like a bit part) and we get a great grasp of his thinking and character.
His more human and emotional side is even revealed, which definitely works to make him feel more rounded. The Hastings / Poirot dynamic is also a delight to read. Seeing him as part of a friendship is nice for the more-often-than-not lone wolf.
One cannot be interested in crime without being interested in psychology.hercule poirot
Something to think about
Often, while immersed in the story, I forget that lots of Agatha’s books are from a past era. So, it’s suddenly strange to read about people in the UK being hung for murder – but a quick Google search revealed that the death penalty was (only!) abolished in 1969 and Lord Edgware Dies was published, so we assume set, in 1933.
It’s things like this, and the negative stereotyping that crops up, especially of race and ethnicity, in this and other Agatha Christie books, that really show they were written in a very different time and sometimes that gives you an uncomfortable, jarring feeling while reading.
Overall though, a great Poirot story with all of Agatha’s trademark clever plot twists, strong storytelling and wry observations in place.
- Get your copy of Lord Edgware Dies here;
- First published in 1933;
- 260 pages;
- My rating: