Title: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding Author: Agatha Christie First Publication Date: January 1st,1960 Republished by: Harper Collins in December,2002 Genre: Mystery,Classic Fiction,Short Stories
REVIEW Rating: 3.5/5
A short story collection concocted by one of my favourite childhood authors Dame Agatha Christie seemed like the perfect book to curl up in bed with this Christmas holiday.Christie refers herself as ‘the chef’ of this book of Christmas fare which is described as ‘The Chef’s Collection’ in her foreword. There are two main courses: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and The Mystery of the Spanish Chest; a selection of Entrées: Greenshaw’s Folly,The Dream, and The Under Dog; and a Sorbet: Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds, four of which features the little mustached Belgian detective Hercule Poirot while one is about the sweet grandmotherly sleuth Miss Marple.
Interestingly though only the titular story is set around Christmas but this does not in any way diminish the appeal of the other stories in the collection.
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding: In order to find the mystery behind a missing ruby,Poirot finds himself celebrating the Christmas holiday in the countryside at Kings Lacey with the Laceys who always have a grand Christmas party the English way.
“DON’T EAT NONE OF THE PLUM PUDDING.ONE AS WISHES YOU WELL.’
With this ominous but cryptic message waiting for him in bed Poirot sets upon his task of solving the mystery of the missing jewel,and a murder along the way.
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest: A newspaper article of a murdered man found in a Spanish Chest grabs the obsessive Poirot’s attention and he takes it upon himself to solve this mystery with characters and plotline similar to Shakespeare’s Othello.
The mystery of the Spanish chest was dramatic and emotional,two qualities which Poirot often declared to Hastings could be much overrated- and indeed frequently were so by the latter.He had been severe with ce cher Hastings on this point,and now here he was,behaving much as his friend might have done,obsessed with beautiful women,crimes of passion,jealous,hatred,and all the romantic causes of murder! He wanted to know about it all.
The Under Dog: Here Lily Margrave, the young and skeptical secretary to a Lady Astwell is sent to commission M.Hercule Poirot to investigate the murder of Lady Astwell’s husband Sir Reuben Astwell.
The comic,almost ridiculous,aspect that he presented disturbed her conception of him.Could this funny little man,with the egg-shaped head and the enormous mustaches,really do the wonderful things that were claimed of him?
Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds: While dining with his friend Henry Bonnington at the Gallant Endeavour,Chelsea he learns about a regular customer and his eating habits who is then later found dead in his own apartment.Thought to be an accident,Poirot uses his little grey cells to prove that it was no accident but a well planned murder.
‘Then you suspect somebody..?’
‘No,no.It is not that at all.It’s a case of the routine habits of the human animal.That is very important. And the dead M.Gascoigne does not fit in it.It is all wrong,you see.’
The Dream: An eccentric millionaire,Benedict Farley is found dead in his dead near the window in his room with a revolver by his side a few days after he tells Poirot about his recurrent dream of killing himself with a gun in his room at twenty-eight minutes past three near the window.
“I wonder if you’ll ever commit a crime,Poirot?” “I bet you could get away with it all right.As a matter of fact,it would be too easy for you – I mean the thing would be off as definitely as too unsporting.”
“That,” said Poirot, “is a typically English idea.”
Poirot is proved to be true because he is eventually forced to become a murderer before he takes leave from the world in Curtain:Poirot’s Last Case. This means that Christie had already planned to turn Poirot into a murderer someday.Though the short stories lack the sophistication and intricacies of plot development as in Christie’s full length novels,they make an entertaining quick read where readers can experience the charm and intelligence of this eponymous detective.I along with Poirot missed Captain Arthur Hastings in these adventures though.
I was however somewhat disappointed by the Miss Marple story,Greenshaw’s Folly. Here the kind of omnipotent solution of a murder mystery of the owner of Greenshaw’s Folly,a secluded piece of architectural beauty near the home of Jane Marple’s nephew, did not charm me as her adventures in A Pocket Full of Rye or The Moving Finger. Considering there is only one Miss Marple story in the collection,it seems like an odd choice to be included in the bundle other than it being Christie’s way of wanting her readers to enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple in the same book during Christmas.
I have realized one thing ,that though I might not have the patience to slog through these cozy laid back mysteries on a regular day as I did during middle school when I used to devour one Agatha Christie book after another,Christie’s books make for a great read on a lazy day when one can sit back and enjoy the scenic locales of the English countryside with the polite people welcoming the clever Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple to stay at their homes and deliver their verdict.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this trip down the memory lane and had a good time with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple this Christmas.How did you spend your Christmas?