The Big Four by Agatha Christie

The Big Four is a novel by Agatha Christie featuring her well-known character, Hercule Poirot.  Poirot has gained fame as one of the world’s greatest detectives.  In this story, he has become weary of investigating cases.  He plans a trip to South America, hoping to find peace and relaxation.  Just before his planned departure, a mysterious man suddenly appears in Poirot’s home.  The man is covered in dust and mud, and his body is thin and emaciated.  Just before the man dies, he tells Poirot of an international secret society made up of four individuals known as the “Big Four.”  Poirot decides to cancel his vacation, so that he can investigate this mystery.  Along with his faithful companion, Captain Hastings, Poirot embarks on an adventure to discover the secret of the Big Four.

This book is unlike other Poirot books.  Most of Agatha Christie’s books about Poirot are mystery novels.  This book includes elements of mystery, but it ends up becoming more like spy fiction.  The story has more to do with international espionage than with solving mysteries.  The structure of this book is broken up into several short stories that are loosely connected to each other.  It appears that the stories were written separately and then combined together to make this book.  Unfortunately, this causes the book to seem somewhat lacking in continuity.  An unusually large number of characters seem to lack depth, and the story does not come together as well as most Agatha Christie stories.  Most books featuring Poirot contain gripping mystery and intrigue, but this book falls short of my expectations.

To be fair, I do not think that The Big Four is a bad book.  It has exciting parts, especially as Poirot and members of the Big Four attempt to thwart each other by setting traps as the story progresses.  However, even these elements of the story become repetitious, and I began to lose interest as I read this book.  In my opinion, this novel does not quite live up to the quality of Agatha Christie’s other Poirot books.  I would still recommend this book to fans of Christie’s novels, but I would not recommend this book to someone who is reading about Poirot for the first time.  For a first-time reader of Christie’s Poirot novels, I would recommend something like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Murder on the Orient Express, both of which I enjoyed very much.

The Big Four by Agatha Christie is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

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