big four

Title: The Big Four (Hercule Poirot #5)

Author: Agatha Christie

First published: 1927

Category: Mystery

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

Hercule Poirot is preparing for a voyage to South America. Looming in the doorway of his bedroom is an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust and mud. The man’s gaunt face registers Poirot for a moment, and then he collapses. The stranger recovers long enough to identify Poirot by name and madly and repeatedly scribble the figure ‘4’ on a piece of paper. Poirot cancels his trip. An investigation is in order. Fortunately, Poirot has the faithful Captain Hastings at his side as he plunges into a conspiracy of international scope—one that would consolidate power in the deadly cabal known as ‘The Big Four.’

I’ve read many of Agatha Christie’s books over the years, she’s one of my favorites, and I felt like reading a Poirot mystery, well listening to one actually. I chose poorly with The Big Four. Poirot is his usual dapper self, eccentric and fastidious. He’s as vain as always, but with faithful Hastings as the narrator, he doesn’t become overly-egocentric. Hastings humanizes him some, makes fun of his quirks and appreciates his friendship.

But the mystery here let me down. It’s too big, but not big enough. The audio version, read by Hugh Fraser, comes in at only 5 hours and 33 minutes. There’s just not enough room for that kind of world domination conspiracy, and even if it were, it’s just too cartoonish, with the stereotypical criminals, the matermind Chinese man, the multimillionaire American, the brilliant French scientist and, and their assassin, the elusive “Number Four,” and their secret meetings. The “twists and turns” are silly, unbelievable or both. It’s not the smooth mystery, where Poirot works through everything using his “little grey cells,” and then has a denoument scene at the end where he spells out the solution. Instead, it’s more a series of episodes, each having some connection to the Big Four.

After I hit post for this review, I’m going to just forget I read it. It’s not up to Christie’s usual work.

Challenge: WAYR, VM

Hercule Poirot Series

  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • The Murder on the Links
  • Poirot Investigates [SS]
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The Big Four
  • The Mystery of the Blue Train
  • The Under Dog and Other Stories [SS]
  • Peril at End House
  • Lord Edgeware Dies (APA: Thirteen at Dinner)
  • Murder in Three Acts (APA: Three-Act Tragedy)
  • Murder on the Orient Express ( APA: Murder on the Calais Coach )
  • Death in the Clouds ( APA: Death in the Air)
  • The ABC Murders (APA: The Alphabet Murders)
  • Murder in Mesopotamia
  • Cards on the Table
  • Dumb Witness (APA: Poirot Loses a Client)
  • Death on the Nile
  • Murder in the Mews [SS] (APA: Dead Man’s Mirror)
  • Appointment with Death
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (APA: Murder for Christmas and A Holiday for Murder)
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (APA: The Patriotic Murders and An Overdose of Death)
  • Sad Cypress
  • Evil Under the Sun
  • Five Little Pigs (APA: Murder in Retrospect)
  • The Hollow (APA: Murder After Hours)
  • Taken at the Flood (APA: There is a Tide…)
  • The Labors of Hercules [SS]
  • Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (APA: Blood Will Tell)
  • After the Funeral (APA: Funerals Are Fatal and Murder at the Gallop)
  • Hickory, Dickory, Dock (APA: Hickory, Dickory, Death)
  • Dead Man’s Folly
  • Cat Among the Pigeons
  • The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Selection of Entrees [SS]
  • The Clocks
  • Third Girl
  • Hallowe’en Party
  • Elephants Can Remember
  • Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases [SS]
  • Curtain: Hercule Poirot’s Last Case
  • Hercule Poirot’s Casebook: Fifty Stories [SS]