12/09/2003

Elephants can Remember (by Agatha Christie)

On the whole, I like Agatha Christie's light crime fiction. Her plots are very cleverly done, with false clues laid so carefully that I'm usually taken in. The characters aren't particularly well-rounded or developed, but it doesn't really matter too much in a plot-driven story.

However, I wasn't particularly impressed by 'Elephants can Remember'. It features Hercule Poirot, and I usually like his involvement in books. But this one was spoiled, in my opinion, by extremely lengthy ramblings from Ariadne Oliver, a crime writer also featured in the book.

Ms Oliver is approached by a stranger, and asked about the death of two old friends, some years previously. She decides to investigate, and spends a lot of time talking to Poirot.

The couple who died were supposed to have made a suicide pact. Their daughter Celia was Ariadne's god-daughter. There was a suspicion of insanity (as any mental illness was known in the early twentieth century) in the family, since Celia's mother had a twin sister, who had a nervous breakdown at one point.

It's a clever plot, with an unexpected ending. But it was really remarkably rambling and long-winded in places, as Ms Oliver interviews several 'elephants' - people who remember clearly what went on.

Not one of the best Agatha Christies, although it was quite readable, with a fair bit of skimming.

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