After art collector and noted party host Mr. Shaitana boasts to Hercule Poirot that he collects successful murderers, Shaitana arranges a party to show off his collection. He balances four suspects with four sleuths: Poirot, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard (introduced in The Secret of Chimneys), Colonel Race of the intelligence service (introduced in The Man in the Brown Suit), and mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (introduced in some of Christie's short stories). As the guests prepare to leave, Shaitana is found dead in his chair. Murdered, of course. Which one of Shaitana's four collected murderers committed the crime while the other three were absorbed in a bridge game?It was fun to experience several of Christie's sleuths in the same novel. Mrs. Oliver turned out to be a delightful foil for Poirot. As a whole, I think I prefer the Poirot novels that include Mrs. Oliver. She livens things up. For me, the one negative aspect of the book is its extensive focus on bridge. I'm not a bridge player, and the detailed descriptions of the bridge game lost me. I enjoyed the story a lot more once the focus moved beyond the bridge game to other aspects of the crime.I listened to the audio version read by Hugh Fraser, who played Hastings in the British television series. His style is well-suited to the Poirot books. Warmly recommended.
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