Review of Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Goodreads Summary :
Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckly. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo. Poirot has taken a particular interest in the young woman who has recently narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck. It seems all too clear to him that someone is trying to do away with poor Nick, but who? And, what is the motive? In his quest for answers, Poirot must delve into the dark history of End House. The deeper he gets into his investigation, the more certain he is that the killer will soon strike again. And, this time, Nick may not escape with her life!
This book was a spontaneous purchase for me unlike my usual style of relentless scouting before narrowing down to the book that I want to read. This purchase was triggered by a discount offer in Amazon when I was on the lookout for ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles‘ (find my review here), but what a value for money it turned out to be! After ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd‘, this was an Agatha Christie book that completely took me by surprise. Although there is everything characteristic to an Agatha Christie novel in this book – a lone mansion, suspicious characters including a beautifully enigmatic female and unusually honest male and weird housemaids; there is something unique in this novel. When Poirot comes into the novel, there is no case yet! This makes the novel more complicated as we are left with a set of clues but with very vague motives. I personally had a hard time guessing the criminal and it looks like Poirot also went through his fair share of dilemmas and false conclusions. This book, in usual Agatha Christie style, has plenty of red herrings and multiple plot twists. Yet, at the end, she through her faithful medium of Poirot ties everything together marvellously!
As it has been quite some time since I read an Agatha Christie novel (with one exception), I totally forgot how vain Poirot could be and it took me by surprise! Like Hastings, I was irritated by Poirot’s not-so-subtle mocking of Hastings and his continuous bragging and self-importance. However, this time around, Hastings showed great judgement and held his ground even when Poirot was leading him on. Yet, these back and forth interactions between Poirot and Hastings add plenty of comic relief in the book. Below are few excerpts from the book :
Conversation between Poirot and Hastings :
‘What?’ I (Hastings) asked as he (Poirot) came to a stop.
‘What I shall know on Monday,’ he returned, ambiguously.
I looked at him but said nothing. He sighed
‘you have no longer the curiosity, my friend. In the old days –’
‘there are some pleasures,’ I said, coldly, ‘that it is good for you to do without.’ … ‘ The pleasure of refusing to answer questions. ‘
Hastings on Poirot’s vanity :
And I smiled, for at the time that Poirot told me the tale ( a mystery which he could not solve), he had instructed me to say ‘chocolate box’ to him if ever I should fancy he was growing conceited! He was then bitterly offended when I used the magical words only a minute and a quarter later.
A very engaging book and one of the challenging Agatha Christie mysteries. This book will send you in all the directions with its cleverly placed clues and suspicious incidents. If you are able to rightly guess the perpetrator, give yourself a pat in the back as I believe that you have accomplished something which normal mortals cannot!