Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

Dumb Witness (Hercule Poirot, #16)Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Audio (CDs)
Narrated By: Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings!)
Original Publication Year: 1937
Genre(s): Mystery
Series: Hercule Poirot (#16)

If I learned one thing from reading Dumb Witness, it is that I suspect Agatha Christie of being a dog person. She is very, very good at writing a charming dog and reading his little doggie mind! Also, when looking up what number this particular book was in the series it became apparent that there are a lot more Poirot mysteries than I thought, which means I have a lot more to read. Considering that I enjoyed this one and all the others I’ve read featuring Poirot, that makes me a pretty happy reader!

Poirot receives a letter in the mail that intrigues him. It is from Emily Arundell, and very vague, almost incomprehensible, and it is two months late in arriving. What’s clear is that Ms. Arundell was worried about something nad that something had something to do with the dog’s ball. Poirot is intrigued enough to investigate and finds that Ms. Arundell has been dead for over a month and that there is some hullabaloo over her will which left her substantial fortune to her companion of only a year rather than her family. Despite the apparent naturalness of her death, Poirot proceeds to investigate on behalf of the deceased.

To be honest, not a lot happens in the book. There are a couple initial chapters that introduce Emily Arundell and her family and household: her nephew Charles Arundell, a corrupt roguish charmer, his sister Theresa a vain, pleasure seeking beauty, another niece Arabella Tanios, weak and cowed by her charming but seemingly overbearing Greek husband, and finally her silly, foolish companion Ms. Lawson. Once Poirot and Hastings enter the story, the action becomes centered on a series of interviews that slowly reveal the clues to what happened to Emily Arundell and her will. Despite the lack of action, I was still pretty interested in the mystery. This is likely most explained by the unique talent that is Agatha Christie. I believe she could make the phone book interesting reading for me so I don’t really require narrative fireworks to keep me reading.  The other interesting thing about this particular volume is the emphasis it places on how big a liar Poirot is.  I do love characters who are essentially quite honorable but who also don't sweat the small stuff.   

A note on the narration which is excellent. Hugh Fraser plays the role of Captain Hasting on the Poirot Mystery! Series and he does this well. His narration as Hastings is spot on and he also does a pretty impressive Poirot.

Do you prefer Christie's Poirot or Marple series or perhaps her one-offs?

View all my reviews

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