06/03/2003

The Big Four (by Agatha Christie)

I only started reading Agatha Christie's books a few years ago, not being - in general - a fan of crime fiction. I go through phases of reading one or two, but although her plots are extremely clever, I never really warm to her characters.

However they're good books to read aloud to older children or teenagers - they are interesting to discuss, and sometimes work better when read aloud, as it's impossible to skim when reading that way.

'The Big Four' is the latest book I read to my sons, who are 16 and 14, and still enjoy a few chapters a day of me reading, despite both being avid readers themselves.

Unfortunately, we didn't really enjoy it all that much. The plot revolves around the world being under a terrorist threat by four evil criminals. So although it's sort of topical, it's not really very realistic.

Hercule Poirot and his sidekick Hastings come close to all the four criminals befor the final climax of the book.

It's a thriller rather than a mystery, with light humour as Poirot is his usual pompous self, and a few unexpected twists towards the end.

Christie excels in crime fiction with clever plots that lead the reader along false trails until the conclusion is finally - and brilliantly - explained. But although this isn't a bad book, we didn't think there was anything special about it.

However, others rate it highly, and it's still in print in both the USA and UK.

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