Peril at End House by Agatha Christie was first published in 1932. For once I wasn’t totally bemused and I was doing well, following the clues, or so I thought because I did solve some of the puzzles before Poirot revealed the culprit. But I hadn’t got the final solution!
Poirot is on holiday in Cornwall and boasting of his modesty to Captain Hastings, who is the narrator of this story. In his own words he is happy to be in retirement:
To sit in the sun – what could be more charming? To step from your pinnacle at the zenith of your fame – what could be a grander gesture? They say of me: “That is Hercule Poirot! – The great – the unique! – There was never any one like him, there never will be!” Eh bien – I am satisfied. I ask no more. I am modest.
But when he meets Nick Buckley who tells of her “accidental brushes with death” he just cannot resist investigating who is her would-be killer. Nick treats it all as a joke but Poirot is convinced that she is in grave danger. Indeed it seems as though he is right, especially when her cousin Maggie, wearing Nick’s shawl is shot.
But why would someone want to kill Nick? She lives at End House, badly in need of repair and “mortgaged up to the hilt”. Could it be Ellen, the housekeeper, or one of her friends – the languid, affected and mysterious Frederica known as Freddie, or her cousin Charles, who will inherit the house if she dies. Or maybe it’s the Australian couple renting the lodge house from Nick, who knew her father when he was in Australia. And what is the significance of the secret panel in the house – if it really exists?
There are plenty of twist and turns as usual with an Agatha Christie plot and not everyone is who they seem to be – identity plays a large role in this complicated mystery. I enjoyed it very much, not least because of Captain Hasting’s comments on Poirot’s outrageous vanity, such as this one:
His fame and reputation meant nothing to her – she was of the generation that knows only the great names of the immediate moment. … He was to her only a rather comic elderly foreigner with an amusingly melodramatic mind.
And this attitude baffled Poirot. To begin with, his vanity suffered. It was his constant dictum that all the world knew Hercule Poirot. Here was someone who did not. Very good for him, I could not but feel – but not precisely helpful to the object in view!
Have a look at the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival for more posts on her books.