#76 – Curtain

Poirot invites Hastings to come to Styles Court to go hunting with him for one last time. He has identified five cases of murder, where the obvious suspect was arrested and often found guilty, sometimes even confessing to the deed, and yet he insists that they were in fact all carried out by a mysterious X who is one of their fellow guests. Poirot believes X is planning to kill again and hopes to forestall him but this time he may have met his match.

My somewhat negative thoughts about this book are perhaps rooted in the fact that I foolishly read the end of it for the first time in a secondhand bookshop as it was one that we didn’t have at home. I still have no idea why I did it and I really wish I hadn’t as I never appreciated its undoubted cleverness properly but psychologically I just don’t think things would have happened to these characters as they do.

All in all though, as Poirot’s final case, it is a must read, and a great improvement on some of his later cases.

Recurring Character Development

Hercule Poirot

His health has been deteriorating for some time. He is now crippled by arthritis and has to use a wheelchair.

Captain Hastings

His wife has died.

He has four previously unmentioned children. One boy in the Navy, the other married and running the family ranch in the Argentine. Grace has married a soldier and is living in India. Judith is staying at Styles with her employer and his wife.

Signs of the Times

Written in the early 1940s, although deliberately held back from publication until the 1970s, the story is set maybe at most five years’ after the end of WWII, which causes a problem given that Poirot continued his career well into the 1960s. Maybe this is what happened in a parallel universe?

References to previous works

As on his first visit to Styles, Hastings sees a woman gardening as he enters the grounds, not Evelyn Howard this time, but Mrs Luttrell.

There is a slight spoiler for “The ABC Murders” and slightly more for “Sad Cypress” although Hastings refers to Evelyn Carlisle when he means Elinor Carlisle.

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