Narrator: Hugh Fraser
Series: Hercule Poirot #26
Published by HarperAudio on July 3, 2012 (first published 1946)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 7 hrs 11 mins
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Lady Angkatell, intrigued by the criminal mind, has invited Hercule Poirot to her estate for a weekend house party. The Belgian detective's arrival at the Hollow is met with an elaborate tableau staged for his amusement: a doctor lies in a puddle of red paint, his timid wife stands over his body with a gun while the other guests look suitably shocked.
But this is no charade. The paint is blood and the corpse real!
Dr. John Christow may be a good doctor, but he is also a bullying, narcissistic man. He seems to be in the midst of a mid-life crisis, takes his anxiety out by hectoring his poor dim-witted but adoring wife Gerda. The Christows head off to a weekend at a country home called The Hollow, owned by Lady Lucy Angkatell. Also visiting are John’s new mistress, a sculptor named Henrietta Savernake (who is also a cousin of Lucy’s). And the neighbor is his ex-fiancée, a beautiful but self-centered actress named Veronica Cray who had left her native England — and John — for Hollywood. And then there’s another triangle. The bookish Edward Angkatell, another of Lucy’s cousins, harbors a one-sided love of Henrietta. In turn, a poor relation and fellow guest, Midge Hardcastle, secretly pines for Edward, fully aware of his unrequited love for Henrietta. Lots of wishing and wanting. I have to admit my favorite character, aside from Poirot, was Lucy. She’s a bit eccentric but she is her own person, married yes, but her life does not revolve around her husband.
The Hollow is not a typical Poirot book. First, we have to wait until we’re about 1/3 of the way through the book until the murder occurs, We get to know the characters well, see into their personal lives. The Hollows is more interested in the relationships and personalities than in actual clues. We get to know the people as individuals not just as suspects. They were quirky and dangerous and smart, and each has his/her own reason to have wanted the doctor dead.
Of course, Poirot happens to be in the neighborhood, invited over for lunch. He arrives just in time to see the immediate aftermath of the crime. He doesn’t actually do much investigating. The local detective does the digging around, questioning people, getting led down wrong paths. Poirot listens to him and to the women who come to tell him their view of the crime. He does provide the final, rather sad, solution.