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Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

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Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

ratings:
4/5 (152 ratings)
Length:
273 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 23, 2004
ISBN:
9780061749940
Format:
Book

Description

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.

But why is the dead man wearing his son's overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse . . .

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 23, 2004
ISBN:
9780061749940
Format:
Book

About the author

Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies. She is the author of eighty crime novels and short-story collections, nineteen plays and six novels written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.


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Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie

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One

A Fellow Traveller

I believe that a well-known anecdote exists to the effect that a young writer, determined to make the commencement of his story forcible and original enough to catch and rivet the attention of the most blasé of editors, penned the following sentence:

‘Hell!’ said the Duchess.

Strangely enough, this tale of mine opens in much the same fashion. Only the lady who gave utterance to the exclamation was not a duchess.

It was a day in early June. I had been transacting some business in Paris and was returning by the morning service to London, where I was still sharing rooms with my old friend, the Belgian ex-detective, Hercule Poirot.

The Calais express was singularly empty—in fact, my own compartment held only one other traveller. I had made a somewhat hurried departure from the hotel and was busy assuring myself that I had duly collected all my traps, when the train started. Up till then I had hardly noticed my companion, but I was now violently recalled to the fact of her existence. Jumping up from her seat, she let down the window and stuck her head out, withdrawing it a moment later with the brief and forcible ejaculation Hell!

Now I am old-fashioned. A woman, I consider, should be womanly. I have no patience with the modern neurotic girl who jazzes from morning to night, smokes like a chimney, and uses language which would make a Billingsgate fishwoman blush!

I looked up, frowning slightly, into a pretty, impudent face, surmounted by a rakish little red hat. A thick cluster of black curls hid each ear. I judged that she was little more than seventeen, but her face was covered with powder, and her lips were quite impossibly scarlet.

Nothing abashed, she returned my glance, and executed an expressive grimace.

Dear me, we’ve shocked the kind gentleman! she observed to an imaginary audience. I apologize for my language! Most unladylike, and all that, but, oh, Lord, there’s reason enough for it! Do you know I’ve lost my only sister?

Really? I said politely. How unfortunate.

He disapproves! remarked the lady. He disapproves utterly—of me, and my sister—which last is unfair, because he hasn’t seen her!

I opened my mouth, but she forestalled me.

Say no more! Nobody loves me! I shall go into the garden and eat worms! Boohoo. I am crushed!

She buried herself behind a large comic French paper. In a minute or two I saw her eyes stealthily peeping at me over the top. In spite of myself I could not help smiling, and in a minute she had tossed the paper aside, and had burst into a merry peal of laughter.

I knew you weren’t such a mutt as you looked, she cried.

Her laughter was so infectious that I could not help joining in, though I hardly cared for the word mutt.

There! Now we’re friends! declared the minx. Say you’re sorry about my sister—

I am desolated!

That’s a good boy!

Let me finish. I was going to add that, although I am desolated, I can manage to put up with her absence very well. I made a little bow.

But this most unaccountable of damsels frowned and shook her head.

Cut it out. I prefer the ‘dignified disapproval’ stunt. Oh, your face! ‘Not one of us,’ it said. And you were right there—though, mind you, it’s pretty hard to tell nowadays. It’s not everyone who can distinguish between a demi and a duchess. There now, I believe I’ve shocked you again! You’ve been dug out of the backwoods, you have. Not that I mind that. We could do with a few more of your sort. I just hate a fellow who gets fresh. It makes me mad.

She shook her head vigorously.

What are you like when you’re mad? I inquired with a smile.

A regular little devil! Don’t care what I say, or what I do, either! I nearly did a chap in once. Yes, really. He’d have deserved it too.

Well, I begged, don’t get mad with me.

I shan’t. I like you—did the first moment I set eyes on you. But you looked so disapproving that I never thought we should make friends.

Well, we have. Tell me something about yourself.

I’m an actress. No—not the kind you’re thinking of. I’ve been on the boards since I was a kid of six—tumbling.

I beg your pardon, I said, puzzled.

Haven’t you ever seen child acrobats?

Oh, I understand!

I’m American born, but I’ve spent most of my life in England. We’ve got a new show now—

We?

My sister and I. Sort of song and dance, and a bit of patter, and a dash of the old business thrown in. It’s quite a new idea, and it hits them every time. There’s going to be money in it—

My new acquaintance leaned forward, and discoursed volubly, a great many of her terms being quite unintelligible to me. Yet I found myself evincing an increasing interest in her. She seemed such a curious mixture of child and woman. Though perfectly worldly-wise, and able, as she expressed it, to take care of herself, there was yet something curiously ingenuous in her single-minded attitude towards life, and her wholehearted determination to make good.

We passed through Amiens. The name awakened many memories. My companion seemed to have an intuitive knowledge of what was in my mind.

Thinking of the War?

I nodded.

You were through it, I suppose?

Pretty well. I was wounded once, and after the Somme they invalided me out altogether. I’m a sort of private secretary now to an MP.

My! That’s brainy!

No, it isn’t. There’s really awfully little to do. Usually a couple of hours every day sees me through. It’s dull work too. In fact, I don’t know what I should do if I hadn’t got something to fall back upon.

Don’t say you collect bugs!

No. I share rooms with a very interesting man. He’s a Belgian—an ex-detective. He’s set up as a private detective in London, and he’s doing extraordinarily well. He’s really a very marvellous little man. Time and again he has proved to be right where the official police have failed.

My companion listened with widening eyes.

Isn’t that interesting now? I just adore crime. I go to all the mysteries on the movies. And when there’s a murder on I just devour the papers.

Do you remember the Styles Case? I asked.

Let me see, was that the old lady who was poisoned? Somewhere down in Essex?

I nodded.

That was Poirot’s first big case. Undoubtedly, but for him the murderer would have escaped scot-free. It was a most wonderful bit of detective work.

Warming to my subject, I ran over the heads of the affair, working up to the triumphant and unexpected dénouement.

The girl listened spellbound. In fact, we were so absorbed that the train drew into Calais station before we realized it.

I secured a couple of porters, and we alighted on the platform. My companion held out her hand.

Goodbye, and I’ll mind my language better in future.

Oh, but surely you’ll let me look after you on the boat?

Mayn’t be on the boat. I’ve got to see whether that sister of mine got aboard after all anywhere. But thanks, all the same.

Oh, but we’re going to meet again, surely? Aren’t you even going to tell me your name? I cried, as she turned away.

She looked over her shoulder.

Cinderella, she said, and laughed.

But little did I think when and how I should see Cinderella again.

Two

An Appeal for Help

It was five minutes past nine when I entered our joint sitting room for breakfast on the following morning. My friend Poirot, exact to the minute as usual, was just tapping the shell of his second egg.

He beamed upon me as I entered.

"You have slept well, yes? You have recovered from the crossing so terrible? It is a marvel, almost you are exact this morning. Pardon, but your tie is not symmetrical. Permit that I rearrange him."

Elsewhere, I have described Hercule Poirot. An extraordinary little man! Height, five feet four inches, egg-shaped head carried a little to one side, eyes that shone green when he was excited, stiff military moustache, air of dignity immense! He was neat and dandified in appearance. For neatness of any kind he had an absolute passion. To see an ornament set crookedly, or a speck of dust, or a slight disarray in one’s attire, was torture to the little man until he could ease his feelings by remedying the matter. Order and Method were his gods. He had a certain disdain for tangible evidence, such as footprints and cigarette ash, and would maintain that, taken by themselves, they would never enable a detective to solve a problem. Then he would tap his egg-shaped head with absurd complacency, and remark with great satisfaction: "The true work, it is done from within. The little grey cells—remember always the little grey cells, mon ami."

I slipped into my seat, and remarked idly, in answer to Poirot’s greeting, that an hour’s sea passage from Calais to Dover could hardly be dignified by the epithet terrible.

Anything interesting come by the post? I asked.

Poirot shook his head with a dissatisfied air.

I have not yet examined my letters, but nothing of interest arrives nowadays. The great criminals, the criminals of method, they do not exist.

He shook his head despondently, and I roared with laughter.

Cheer up, Poirot, the luck will change. Open your letters. For all you know, there may be a great case looming on the horizon.

Poirot smiled, and taking up the neat little letter opener with which he opened his correspondence he slit the tops of the several envelopes that lay by his plate.

A bill. Another bill. It is that I grow extravagant in my old age. Aha! a note from Japp.

Yes? I pricked up my ears. The Scotland Yard Inspector had more than once introduced us to an interesting case.

He merely thanks me (in his fashion) for a little point in the Aberystwyth Case on which I was able to set him right. I am delighted to have been of service to him.

Poirot continued to read his correspondence placidly.

A suggestion that I should give a lecture to our local Boy Scouts. The Countess of Forfanock will be obliged if I will call and see her. Another lapdog without doubt! And now for the last. Ah—

I looked up, quick to notice the change of tone. Poirot was reading attentively. In a minute he tossed the sheet over to me.

"This is out of the ordinary, mon ami. Read for yourself."

The letter was written on a foreign type of paper, in a bold characteristic hand:

Villa Geneviève,

Merlinville-sur-Mer,

France.

Dear Sir,—I am in need of the services of a detective and, for reasons which I will give you later, do not wish to call in the official police. I have heard of you from several quarters, and all reports go to show that you are not only a man of decided ability, but one who also knows how to be discreet. I do not wish to trust details to the post, but, on account of a secret I possess, I go in daily fear of my life. I am convinced that the danger is imminent, and therefore I beg that you will lose no time in crossing to France, I will send a car to meet you at Calais, if you will wire me when you are arriving. I shall be obliged if you will drop all cases you have on hand, and devote yourself solely to my interests. I am prepared to pay any compensation necessary. I shall probably need your services for a considerable period of time, as it may be necessary for you to go out to Santiago, where I spent several years of my life. I shall be content for you to name your own fee.

Assuring you once more that the matter is urgent.

Yours faithfully,

P. T. Renauld.

Below the signature was a hastily scrawled line, almost illegible:

For God’s sake, come!

I handed the letter back with quickened pulses.

At last! I said. Here is something distinctly out of the ordinary.

Yes, indeed, said Poirot meditatively.

You will go of course, I continued.

Poirot nodded. He was thinking deeply. Finally he seemed to make up his mind, and glanced up at the clock. His face was very grave.

"See you, my friend, there is no time to lose. The Continental express leaves Victoria at 11 o’clock. Do not agitate yourself. There is plenty of time. We can allow ten minutes for discussion. You accompany me, n’est-ce pas?"

Well—

You told me yourself that your employer needed you not for the next few weeks.

Oh, that’s all right. But this Mr. Renauld hints strongly that his business is private.

Ta-ta-ta! I will manage M. Renauld. By the way, I seem to know the name?

There’s a well-known South American millionaire fellow. His name’s Renauld. I don’t know whether it could be the same.

But without doubt. That explains the mention of Santiago. Santiago is in Chile, and Chile it is in South America! Ah; but we progress finely! You remarked the postscript? How did it strike you?

I considered.

Clearly he wrote the letter keeping himself well in hand, but at the end his self-control snapped and, on the impulse of the moment, he scrawled those four desperate words.

But my friend shook his head energetically.

You are in error. See you not that while the ink of the signature is nearly black, that of the postscript is quite pale?

Well? I said, puzzled.

"Mon Dieu, mon ami, but use your little grey cells. Is it not obvious? Mr. Renauld wrote his letter. Without blotting it, he reread it carefully. Then, not on impulse, but deliberately, he added those last words, and blotted the sheet."

But why?

"Parbleu! so that it should produce the effect upon me that it has upon you."

What?

"Mais oui—to make sure of my coming! He reread the letter and was dissatisfied. It was not strong enough!"

He paused, and then added softly, his eyes shining with that green light that always betokened inward excitement:

"And so, mon ami, since that postscript was added, not on impulse, but soberly, in cold blood, the urgency is very great, and we must reach him as soon as possible."

Merlinville, I murmured thoughtfully. I’ve heard of it, I think.

Poirot nodded.

It is a quiet little place—but chic! It lies about midway between Boulogne and Calais. Mr. Renauld has a house in England, I suppose?

Yes, in Rutland Gate, as far as I remember. Also a big place in the country, somewhere in Hertfordshire. But I really know very little about him, he doesn’t do much in a social way. I believe he has large South American interests in the City, and has spent most of his life out in Chile and the Argentine.

Well, we shall hear all the details from the man himself. Come, let us pack. A small suitcase each, and then a taxi to Victoria.

Eleven o’clock saw our departure from Victoria on our way to Dover. Before starting Poirot had dispatched a telegram to Mr. Renauld giving the time of our arrival at Calais.

I’m surprised you haven’t invested in a few bottles of some sea sick remedy, Poirot, I observed maliciously, as I recalled our conversation at breakfast.

My friend, who was anxiously scanning the weather, turned a reproachful face upon me.

Is it that you have forgotten the method most excellent of Laverguier? His system, I practise it always. One balances oneself, if you remember, turning the head from left to right, breathing in and out, counting six between each breath.

H’m, I demurred. You’ll be rather tired of balancing yourself and counting six by the time you get to Santiago, or Buenos Aires, or wherever it is you land.

"Quelle idée! You do not figure to yourself that I shall go to Santiago?"

Mr. Renauld suggests it in his letter.

"He did not know the methods of Hercule Poirot. I do not run to and fro, making journeys, and agitating myself. My work is done from within—here—" he tapped his forehead significantly.

As usual, this remark roused my argumentative faculty.

It’s all very well, Poirot, but I think you are falling into the habit of despising certain things too much. A fingerprint has led sometimes to the arrest and conviction of a murderer.

And has, without doubt, hanged more than one innocent man, remarked Poirot dryly.

But surely the study of fingerprints and footprints, cigarette ash, different kinds of mud, and other clues that comprise the minute observation of details—all these are of vital importance?

But certainly. I have never said otherwise. The trained observer, the expert, without doubt he is useful! But the others, the Hercules Poirots, they are above the experts! To them the experts bring the facts, their business is the method of the crime, its logical deduction, the proper sequence and order of the facts; above all, the true psychology of the case. You have hunted the fox, yes?

I have hunted a bit, now and again, I said, rather bewildered by this abrupt change of subject. Why?

"Eh bien, this hunting of the fox, you need the dogs, no?"

Hounds, I corrected gently. Yes, of course.

But yet, Poirot wagged his finger at me. You did not descend from your horse and run along the ground smelling with your nose and uttering loud Ow Ows?

In spite of myself I laughed immoderately. Poirot nodded in a satisfied manner.

So. You leave the work of the d— hounds to the hounds. Yet you demand that I, Hercule Poirot, should make myself ridiculous by lying down (possibly on damp grass) to study hypothetical footprints, and should scoop up cigarette ash when I do not know one kind from the other. Remember the Plymouth Express mystery. The good Japp departed to make a survey of the railway line. When he returned, I, without having moved from my apartments, was able to tell him exactly what he had found.

So you are of the opinion that Japp wasted his time.

"Not at all, since his evidence confirmed my theory. But I should have wasted my time if I had gone. It is the

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What people think about Murder on the Links

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152 ratings / 43 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    A fairly early Agatha Christie novel involving Hercule Poirot, narrated by his friend Hastings. They travel to France in response to an urgent letter, only to find that they are too late to prevent a tragedy. Poirot's investigations are somewhat hampered by the French police, and also by various involved folk evidently not telling the truth. Well-paced writing with a good plot, with somewhat flat characters - but that's not unusual for Christie. There's a low-key romance, too, and some mildly amusing banter here and there. A good diversion, available in Kindle form as well as various print editions.
  • (4/5)
    Murder On The Links (1923) (Poirot #2) by Agatha Christie. It is hard to imagine this was only the second outing for Poirot. He seems so well formed already, but that is neither here nor there. What matters is the case, the puzzle, the obstacles, the suspects, the police involvement and finally the solution. Point has been summoned by Monsieur Renauld who is certain his life is in danger, which is proved a good hunch as, upon arrival in Merlinville, France, Poirot is greeted with the news of the gentleman’s murder. The victim was struck down at a golf course adjacent to his home. Detective Giraud is on the case, a young, smart, no nonsense “modern” thinker who pooh-poohs Poirot’s methods and stodgy manners. Captain Hastings is along and he falls for the younger investigator’s fast talk, his crawling around on the grass hunting for clues mannerism, and his brilliant, but slightly dubious solutions.There is an arresting cast of characters including a young woman and her mother, the murdered man’s son, yet other young woman that Hastings had met on a train and who mysteriously turns up here, and a few others added for fun.A very good read, plenty of twists for the more experienced reader, and more than one solution offered just for fun. Like so many of Dame Agatha’s works, a darn good read.
  • (4/5)
    This was a good one - kept me guessing right through the end. I'm about as thick as Hastings when it comes to picking out the clues Poirot lays out. Good thing Hastings is a total idiot so that Poirot has to spell everything out for him, and thus, the reader. I love that there was a twist beyond the twist. So at the end I was like, ohhh! But then there were a few more chapters left, whereupon Poirot revealed even more and I was like OHHH! xDAlso, Hastings is a total knob. Poirot is way too cool for him.
  • (4/5)
    THE MURDER ON THE LINKS is a fairly standard Christie story. There's a heinous crime. Poirot uses his keen deductive skills to puzzle out what's happened. Hastings bumbles along and occasionally has a real gem of an idea. There's action and romance and all that good stuff.It's a great little book, if a rather unoriginal one. Christie may have popularized detective fiction, but she's still working off of an older tradition here. Poirot and Hastings are clearly Christie's own take on Holmes and Watson. They fulfill their roles admirably, but that doesn't make them groundbreaking. But, that complaint aside, the story is entertaining and nicely plotted. It's interesting, too, to note how Christie's treatment of romance changes over the years. This early novel contains a couple of love-at-first-sight romances. Her later work emphasizes solid, carefully considered relationships in which neither party is particularly passionate about the other. I wonder how much this attitude owes to Christie's own romantic life.I'd definitely recommend THE MURDER ON THE LINKS to anyone who's enjoyed Dame Agatha's work in the past or is looking to give her a try, but I'd caution you not to expect spectacular, mind-blowing things from it. This is a solid, enjoyable read and a good way to while away a few hours, but it's not going to change your life.(A rather different version of this review originally appeared on my blog, Stella Matutina).
  • (3/5)
    In which a panicked note to Hastings leads to murder…

    You can’t go wrong with Poirot and Hastings, although "Murder on the Links" is a complicated affair. Christie wasn’t yet at the height of her powers, but she had mastered these characters in the intervening short stories, so the second Poirot novel proves a strong indicator of things to come. The mystery is solidly written, forcing Poirot’s little grey cells to work overtime, and there are some nice character dynamics. If there’s a flaw, it’s that it feels too perfectly constructed, as if no one could actually commit this murder.

    Amusingly, Christie had already grown tired of Hastings (or, rather, the expectation that he appear as her constant narrator), and the seeds are sown here that will see him gone for Argentina, to return only intermittently, by the time Poirot returns to the novel format in "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd".

    Three-and-a-half stars.

    Poirot ranking: 18th out of 38
  • (4/5)
    Loved the book. Much more subtle and intricate than the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot (starring the excellent David Suchet). The end of this—the second Poirot book, published in 1923—is quite endearing. Mrs. Christie did really use “the little grey cells” in her stories!
  • (4/5)
    Originally published in 1923, I read an Agatha Christie Signature Edition published in 2001. ISBN 0-00-711928-3. 319 pages.Having recently transacted some business in Paris, Arthur Hastings is returning to London, to the rooms he is now sharing with Belgian ex-detective Hercule Poirot, by the morning Calais express. He shares a compartment with a young woman who introduces herself as Cinderella.On the following morning in London Poirot receives a letter from France, from someone who says he is desperate need of the services of a detective. The letter is written in a "bold characteristic hand", with a hastily scrawled line at the bottom, "For God's sake, come!" Poirot and Hastings set out straight away for Dover and then Calais. When they arrive at their destination they discover that the writer of the letter has already been murdered. His brutally stabbed body is discovered face down in a bunker on a nearby golf course, clad in its underwear and an extremely long overcoat.This is Agatha Christie's third novel, her second to feature Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings. Although this is only the second time we have seen Poirot in action, Hastings implies they have worked other cases together since THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES. In a reference to Inspector Japp from Scotland Yard in the opening pages, Hastings says that he had "more than once introduced us to an interesting case."The police have already been called to the murder scene by the time Poirot arrives and he is delighted to discover the police commissary is an old acquaintance whom he last saw in Ostend over a decade before. The commissary is able to introduce Poirot to the examining magistrate and the victim's doctor. After Poirot has inspected the scene and between them they have interviewed some of the household, a stranger turns up. He proves to be Monseiur Giraud from the Paris Surete, a much younger man, a "modern" detective, arrogant, self-assured, and only about thirty years old.From this point on the action becomes a competition between Poirot and Giraud to solve the case. Poirot and Giraud constantly refute each other's theories, and Hastings typically is ready to see Poirot as a quibbler, and indeed at one stage goes out of his way to deceive Poirot and thus lets him down. Giraud disparages Poirot's deductive methods, preferring to use more scientific evidence such as the new art of fingerprinting. Poirot makes no secret of the fact that he believes Giraud is not nearly observant enough.In addition Hastings loses his impartiality by falling head over heels in love with one of the suspects. It will be interesting to see if she appears in a future book.The plot is quite a complex one, and indeed I feel that the complexity actually became a little difficult for Christie to sustain. The reader is required to accept a considerable degree of coincidence, straining the credibility of the plot just a bit.There's quite a lot of description of Poirot and we have a really good idea of what he looks like. Hastings, through whose eyes we see the action of the novel, says "An extraordinary little man. Height, five feet four inches, egg-shaped head carried a little to one side, eyes that shone green when he was excited, stiff military moustache, air of dignity immense! He was neat and dandified in appearance." There is a scene however at the end of the novel which is a bit at odds with that description. Look out for it and see what you think."Dashing forward, he [Poirot] battered wildly on the front door. Then rushing to the tree in the flower-bed, he swarmed up it with the agility of a cat. I followed him, as with a bound he sprang in through the open window". Sedate, dapper, neat little Poirot climbs a tree? Never!Just as in the earlier two books, there are quite large sections of denouement, when Christie makes sure that the reader understands the complexity of the plot and the cleverness of her carefully woven webs. Almost 80 pages before the end Poirot begins his exposition designed to make things clear for the thick Hastings. Hastings thinks all is resolved and Poirot reminds him there is yet one more murder to be solved.My verdict. THE MURDER ON THE LINKS has stood the test of time quite well. Red herrings abound. Hercule Poirot changes his mind several times, and so did I. My rating: 4.2Interestingly MURDER ON THE LINKS contains a dedication "To My Husband a fellow enthusiast for detective stories and to whom I am indebted for much helpful advice and criticism."Agatha has been married to Colonel Archibald Christie since 1914, and her marriage, although apparently an unhappy one, will survive until their divorce in 1928.
  • (4/5)
    The Murder on the Links is the second of Christie's Poirot series and from it a better picture of what this Belgian detective is like. The thing that struck me was that he might be a precursor to the man known in the current day as Mr. Adrian Monk. Hercule Poirot comes into a room and immediately looks around and if he can he will begin to straighten up the pictures on the wall, align edges of things out of place and generally look for what is out of order. This is basically the method to his madness as the saying goes.

    Poirot's second characteristic is that he leaves forensic details to others because he can't waste time on clues like cigarette butts or blades of grass because frankly he knows nothing about them and he refuses to make himself look ridiculous moving his nose across the ground like a hound dog. Leave that for the dogs he says.

    Poirot gets a frantic letter from France where a Mr. Renauld is in fear for his life. Despite leaving immediately with his friend Captain Hastings, he arrives too late. Renauld has been found in an open grave on a golf course wearing an overcoat which is too large for him over his underwear.

    There are many entangled threads involving several mysterious characters that Poirot teases out in a delicate fashion all the while poor Captain Hasting is totally lost at sea. He is a lot more that a day late and a dollar short. It made me wonder just why Poirot puts up with him.
    I like the early Poirot books the best because as yet you don't get tired of the little grey cells comments.
  • (4/5)
    Ercule Poirot receives a letter begging him to travel to France to help in a mysterious case. Upon his arrival it turns out that the man who wrote the letter was murdered and it is up to Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings to solve the murder and a couple of other mysteries along the way. A couple of years ago I got my hands on a volume of five of Christie's Miss Marple mysteries along with a book of short stories and for some reason while I enjoyed them I didn't love them. It all seemed very formulaic with superficial characters and without much feeling. Now that I've been reading more of her books I can't help but think that the timing wasn't right when I picked up that volume. I even remember saying in earlier Christie reviews that to me her novels are good riddles but usually don't have much depth. I officially take it back. This was Christie's second published novel and already we have a theme that will repeat in a number of her later books - heredity and its effects on a person's character. Poirot is a big believer in heredity and something tells me that Dame Agatha was as well. It was interesting to see how such considerations played a part in the characters' actions. We also have the matter of social classes and marriage outside of one's class. It seems like an archaic and snobbish subject in this day and age but in Christie's time it was very much relevant and I must admit, marriage is difficult enough without partnering up with someone who doesn't even have the benefit of a similar background. Like Poirot said, 99 times out of 100 it doesn't make for a happy union. But do not despair, my democratic friends, luckily for us Christie favors love and happiness much more than numbers and odds, and that's all I'm going to say about that. As far as the characters go this set was a lot of fun. Hastings always deems himself such a great detective and speaks of Poirot almost pityingly when the Belgian genius makes conclusions that don't coincide with his. Fortunately he remains such a good sport when he realizes that all his ideas were wrong that one can't hold it against him, which I don't think Poirot ever does. The French police are a different matter entirely and it was very amusing to watch them battle it out over the many plot twists - as the officer in charge of the investigation lamented this was not at all a simple case and you do have to get the little grey cells working to keep track of it all. Mme Renauld was definitely my favorite female character. She was a remarkable woman indeed and only at the very end of the book do we see the full extent of it. The rest weren't very straightforward either. We have devotion, self-sacrifice, strength, deceit and calculation all present and as carefully as I watched for clues I couldn't always tell who was looking out for whose interests. Hope you have better luck, both here and with the identity of the killer - I was off the mark yet again and A.C. is currently leading 15-0. That's ok, I have 51 more chances.
  • (4/5)
    This is the second Hercule Poirot mystery and it finds both Hastings (our narrator) and M. Poirot being hired by a millionaire in France who feels his life is under threat because of a great secret that he possesses. When they arrive at his Villa, however, they discover that the millionaire has already been murdered and is a most alarming and intriguing fashion. Poirot is chagrined that an arrogant detective with the French police has taken over the investigation, and he challenges the man into a wager as to which one of them will have the culprit first. The clues are quite disjointed and don't seem to go together at all, but Poirot has more than one trick up his sleeve, and a very long memory that serves him well.There is no shortage of suspects in this story, and each one of them fits all the clues but one, with each one leaving out something different. It's full of twists and turns and revelations that kept me interested till the very end. And, no, I didn't guess correctly! I give this a 4 because while it was very cleverly plotted, there was just a tad too much going on that turned out to be completely superfluous at the end. The trick, though, was deciding what was vital and what wasn't.
  • (4/5)
    Hastings and Poirot are united in another crime solving escapade, this time involving a dead body found on the edge of a golf course. It's not surprising that they would work together, as they are currently sharing a flat in London. One morning, while at breakfast, Poirot receives an urgent summons from Paul Renauld. The two men travel to his home, but arrive too late - Renauld is dead. Earlier that morning, men entered Renauld's house, tied up his wife and abducted him. The police later found his body in an open grave next to a golf course near his home. He was stabbed in the back. Renauld's son is supposed to be in the Americas, his secretary was in London, and only three women servants were in the house with them.
  • (5/5)
    Another classic Hercule Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie. I love any book starring Hercule Poirot, but in this book, Hastings was the shining star for me. I found his blundering around the case extremely amusing. I also enjoyed following his love story in this one. Poirot did an excellent job solving the case, but I really enjoyed the comic relief provided by Hastings in this one.
  • (4/5)
    Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings together, though sometimes at odds. It's a more complicated plot than in The Mysterious Affair At Styles, and it's possible to figure out some of it while missing quite a bit. There's also a part parody/part critique of the Holmes canon, with a French inspector who very much uses those methods.
  • (5/5)
    The book has a quite complicated plot, which is apparently based on a real case, and is very French in its feel. Poirot is completely at the heart of this book and you can feel his character and his 'little grey cells' developing. There is a slightly ludicrous, romantic subplot involving Captain Hastings, but this does not detract from the novel in the least and here I can really feel Christie growing into her craft.
  • (4/5)
    After my disappointment with the first book in the Poirot series I'm pleased to admit that this second installment turned out to be a vast improvement. I like narrative's upbeat tone. It's fast paced yet leaves plenty of room for reflection.More than once the problems facing Poirot and his friend appear to be resolved, only for a twist here, a turn there, and more investigation is required.The characters are all well-drawn, especially Poirot.Overall, an entertaining read.
  • (3/5)
    Don't be fooled by the title. This novel has nothing to do with golf, and very little to do with the mentioned golf course. The second mystery in the Poirot series finds Poirot and Hastings off to France, called by a man who fears for his life. When they arrive they discover that their client has already died. The mystery builds as Poirot uncovers family connections and false identities. I didn't enjoy this book as much as other Poirot mysteries. I wasn't as taken with the setting- I prefer the ones set in England. I was never fully able to embrace the French environment.
  • (4/5)
    It is SO hard for me to read these books and not picture David Suchet as Poirot. While the man is perfect in the role, I hear his voice in my head while I'm reading. But...okay, moving right along...In this episode, we find the friendly little Belgian detective spending his time rescuing cats and he's fed up. Along comes a letter from one M. Renaud in France, asking for Poirot's help because his life is in danger. Off rush Poirot and his friend and erstwhile sidekick, Captain Hastings. But it's too late...when they arrive at Renaud's villa, Renaud is already dead. While Poirot has no official standing there, he is allowed to help the police, and they'll need it: there are a number of suspects from which to choose. With his usual energy, Poirot has to work fast to prevent the wrong person from going to the guillotine. This is installment #2 in the Poirot series, and it's easy to see that neither Poirot nor Hastings are in their fully developed selves yet. It's not one of her best but on the other hand, it's still early in the series. Originally written in 1923, the language is a bit stilted at times, and Poirot is a bit more long-winded than he will turn out to be later. A lot of this novel is based on coincidence, but you can sort of overlook it because it's interesting to see how Poirot uses zee little grey cells. However, a couple of plot twists will keep you guessing right up until the end so it's a good enough mystery and will keep readers turning pages. Recommended definitely for Christie (and Poirot) fans; readers of golden-age mysteries will enjoy this and readers of British mysteries in general will probably have fun with it. Overall...an average story from a great writer.
  • (3/5)
    A good HP book. I don't know why, but it felt more like a "first novel" to me than The Mysterious Affair at Styles did. There is a lot going on in the story, both with the main action and between various characters. I did really like the character development of Hastings and the development of the relationship between Hastings and Poirot. I expect that this background will make the rest of the HP books more enjoyable.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not much for cozies in general, but I do like Agatha Christie and, the earlier Hercule Poirot novels are very nicely crafted. In this story, an Englishman living in France summons Poirot to Merlinville-sur-Mer in France. The Englishman, Paul Renaud, believes his life to life to be endangered. Poirot arrives in all due haste; but it is too late. Renaud's body is discovered on a golf course.... Silly me, I was half afraid that the book was going to contain arcane golfing terminology and I was going to have to ask DH about mashies and niblicks and such, but rest assured, there was nothing about golf in the story :-)

    Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, Hercule Poirot Mysteries (1-4): Mini Op-Ed Reviews, 10/10/2011
  • (3/5)
    Hercules Poirot and Hastings are off to France at the bequest of a South American millionaire who is in fear of his life. It takes some getting used to the English overstuffiness, but the storyline is okay. The ending actually had too many twists which got tedious after a while. I'll will probably still read more Christie novels, though.
  • (4/5)
    Poirot is asked to come quickly to France. It is the postscript that really convinces the esteemed investigator to take on the case. He arrives to find the man who sent the note murdered. Although Giraud, the French detective, seems to be up on the latest in scientific investigation, it is Poirot's psychological studies of the persons involved which leads to the conclusion. This is one with all sorts of twists and turns in the plot. It will keep readers guessing up to the very end.
  • (4/5)
    I'm going through the Poirot mysteries in order, so this is only the second one I've read, but I prefer this one over The Mysterious Affair at Styles.I must admit, one of the characters I knew was going to come back, but not in the way I imagined it. Christie's talent for a mystery shines when Poirot reveals the truth and you can go back in your mind with the evidence and it seems to check out. Sometimes it may seem a little far-fetched, but if you read with your mind going, "ANYTHING can happen," it makes for a much more interesting read.I enjoyed this one a lot, especially with all the hidden identities here and there. Definitely one I'd recommend.
  • (4/5)
    This was an exceptionally good Poirot mystery. There were a lot of complicated plot twists at the end, and just when I thought I had everything figured out there were more surprises. A couple of romances too!
  • (5/5)
    waw, what an amazing plot this one has. as an actively deducing reader, I was constantly set on the wrong foot. the murder case is wonderfully concieved, brilliantly laid out and the plot of the book contains suspense, action and turns on every page. an exceptional story in the Poirot-series by the great Agatha Christie.
  • (4/5)
    A typically solid Agatha Christie effort, and as is the case with many of her works, it is the final plot twists and the ultimate resolution of events that raise this Hercule Poirot outing to a special level. Of course, I say this as a huge Christie homer, so there is much bias to be found here. The title of this one is deceptive, as the story has next to nothing to do with golf, but that's merely an observation and not a complaint. The tale revolves around a set of parents and their son and his involvement with two very different young women. Secrets abound, of course, including those between the parents and the son. Did these secrets play a role in murder? That's what Poirot sets out to determine, and of course his little grey cells prove to be up to the task.
  • (4/5)
    Not one of the best-known Poirots, but it has a lot in its favour. The crime has a more credible feel than some Christies, and Poirot's "psychology of the individual", though as usual it's really a simple concept of criminals sticking to a standard modus operandi, works well here to get him partway to the solution. Despite a contrived denouement, and a typical example of Hastings' thick-wittedness earlier on, the ending is effective, although (unusually for this writer) every time I've reread it I've forgotten the murderer!
  • (3/5)
    A nice, solid detective. The story keeps you guessing, it's complicated enough to not be too straightforward.
  • (4/5)
    The plot isn't the best by any means but that was quite charming. The tone is light - Hasting's romance (not with Poirot though ;)) and his being constantly wrong about everything was fun though completely clownish at times. The Cinderella subplot especially was completely unexpected to me. You can tell Christie's trying to find the right tone for her stories and hasn't quite found it yet. Nothing wrong with that - wouldn't reread but it was nice enough while it lasted.
  • (4/5)
    Another great one.Difficult to read any Poirot now without seeing David Suchet in your mind. His work might be the closest-to-the-mark portrayal of any mystery series character.
  • (4/5)
    Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie - good

    Oops, another Agatha Christie so soon after the last one! My excuse is that I've needed to read things on my kindle recently as I've hurt my arm and am finding holding a book difficult. This was sitting in my TBR folder just tempting me. Sadly, as it was given to me, I think whatever software was used to break the DRM mangled the text a bit as there were a few places which had [missing], thankfully not enough to spoil the read, but a little annoying.

    This one is written from Hasting's perspective and I found that quite different (think it is the first of that style I've read). It was also different from the TV adaptation which was quite refreshing (didn't like the way the TV played up silly rivalries and added comedy).

    Not the best Agatha Christie, not the worst. Certainly worked in the 'keep Chrys occupied without straining her arm' stakes!