After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

I thoroughly enjoyed Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, first published in 1953.

Synopsis (from the official Agatha Christie website):

‘When Cora is savagely murdered, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother’s funeral takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say, “It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”  In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel what happened next …

Published in 1953, and appearing in the United States under the title Funerals are Fatal, Christie dedicated the novel to her nephew, James Watt III “in memory of happy days at Abney”, her sister’s family home. The novel  formed the basis for MGM’˜s Murder at the Gallop, although they chose to swap Poirot for Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple and took ‘˜artistic licence’ with the book’s plot!  It was broadcast in 2006 with David Suchet as Poirot.’

My view:

I read it quickly and consequently had little idea who had killed Cora. I did spend some time looking at the family tree at the beginning of the book, working out the family relationships and who was present at Richard Abernethie’s funeral and their reaction to Cora’s question. It seemed to me that any of the family could have done it – Agatha Christie goes through the actions and thoughts of each character and there’s cause for suspicion for each one.

None of them had had any close ties and consequently they didn’t feel any deep grief. His brother expected he would inherit as Richard’s only son had died six months before his father. Instead Richard had distributed his property equably between his brother and his nephews and nieces – everyone is disappointed.

Apart from trying to solve the mystery I was interested in the glimpses into life in post-war Britain, where jobs are scarce, servants even more scarce and there are complaints about the economic situation, with high taxation and the prospect of properties such as the Abernethie house being turned into a hotel, or institute, or even worse being pulled down and the whole estate built over.

  • Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece edition edition (6 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007119364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007119363
  • Source: I bought the book
  • Rating: 5/5

10 thoughts on “After the Funeral by Agatha Christie”

  1. I really should make the effort to read more Agatha Christie. Perhaps I’ll hunt out this one, or perhaps I should make a list and tackle them methodically – by date of publication perhaps? Or alphabetically? Or categories, like Miss Marple, Poirot, and everything else? What do you recommend?

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    1. Christine, I know that other people are reading Agatha Christie’s books by date of publication. But as there are so many I decided I couldn’t wait to do that, so I’m reading them as I come across them – either by buying secondhand copies or by borrowing them from the library and it works for me. I think some of her later books aren’t quite up to the standard of the earlier ones and you could probably get a better idea of her progress as a writer and the development of the characters by reading them chronologically. It would be interesting to read all them thematically, as you were wondering – all the Poirots, Miss Marples etc. Good luck!

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  2. It sounds a bit like an Angela Thirkell book in that people are always complaining about taxation, death duties and THEM, meaning the government. It seems that the Labour post-war election win was a horrible shock to what had been the ‘toffs’! It’s years since I’ve read a Christie and I gave all mine away, I must look out for some.

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  3. Margaret – I think that look at postwar life is one of the most interesting things about this novel. I liked that part of it very much. And yes, both Cora Lansquenet and Rosamund Shane are interesting characters. I like Susan Banks’ personality too. She’s very…alive.

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  4. That’s the thing about Agatha Christie – she leaves so many red herrings, making just about everyone a suspect.

    The period set fascinates me too. The one thing I haven’t understood yet about post-WWII Britain: if jobs were scarce, why were servants hard to find? You’d think the economy would have driven people back into service. ??

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