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The Labours of Hercules

(Hercule Poirot #27)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  14,548 ratings  ·  647 reviews
Hercule Poirot and his classical namesake had more than a little in common. Both the brilliant detective and the mythical hero had rid the world of numerous pests to the substantial benefit of society.

Before he retires, Poirot takes on twelve more cases, ranging from the affair of the Nemean Lion to the capture of Cerberus literally from Hell. Twelve cases carefully select
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1961 by Fontana (first published 1947)
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3.78  · 
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 ·  14,548 ratings  ·  647 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Only a Poirot completist like me would finish #26, based on either (you choose) a forced or clever premise: Poirot is (supposedly) ready to retire. In appearance he hardly resembles Hercules, but he thinks his mind is equal to Hercules’s body and physical exploits. They both rid the world of monsters, in their own fashion. So Poirot chooses 12 cases to close out his career (though it really doesn’t), mirroring the 12 Labors of Hercules. So it’s a nice idea, clever in its way, but the order and c ...more
Mansuriah Hassan
THE LABOURS OF HERCULES is a mixture of mystery, adventure, and an unexpected literary conceit. Agatha Christie transforms the ancient Greek mythology of the twelve labours of Hercules into a modern mythology and of the twelve labours of Hercules (Poirot). And the result is quite charming.

The book consists of a short preface and twelve stories. It was an absolutely delightful collection of short stories. I thought connecting them to the Twelve Labours of Hercules was ingenious. Much of its charm
Richard Derus
Real Rating: 2.5* of five

Thin gruel.

The Agatha Christie's Poirot filmed version isn't a lot better, though a lot prettier to look at; it resembles the book not at all.
Laurel Young
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all Agatha Christie's collections of stories featuring the great Hercule Poirot, this is the one of which the man himself would most approve. It has the order and method, to be sure! A perfect dozen cases, updating the Labours of Hercules for the modern world (well, the 1947 world). The stories have a certain inevitability to them--it would be a shame to name a character Hercule and NOT do something with the classical allusion. The format is both the collection's greatest strength and its wea ...more
Vikas Singh
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
Interesting collection of twelve stories inspired from the twelve tasks of Hercules. For a change Poirot finds his match and regrets not having read the classics. In this collection we find Poirot's fascination for his great love. I really like the ending of the last story-“Humming a little tune, he went out of the door. His step was light, almost sprightly. Miss Lemon stared after him. Her filing system was forgotten. All her feminine instincts were aroused. ‘Good gracious, she murmured. I wond ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Twelve Hercule Poirot short stories, framed by the device of having each story relate to one of the labours of Hercules. Some of them are a bit of a stretch, like the Nemean lion being kidnapped Pekingese dogs. I read this once and found it utterly forgettable. Someone recently requested it from me on PaperbackSwap, and I read the first few stories again before sending it off. I wasn't interested enough to read them all.

2.5 stars. For Poirot completists only.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read structured like twelve short stories. I like to read a classic mystery once in a while. Hercule is a more humorous detective than I remember. Some surprise twists and solutions.
Nandakishore Varma
This one is a special favourite. Hercule Poirot sets out to emulate the twelve labours of his mythical namesake - but using the little grey cells, not muscles. It has got some absolute gems: "The Lernean Hydra", "The Erymanthian Boar", "The Augean Stables", "The Stymphalean Birds", "The Girdle of Hyppolita" and "The Capture of Cerebrus".
The Enchanted Library
3.5/5 stars
Weird short story collection in which Poirot, ready to retire, selects a few cases as his very own labors of Hercules. The connection to the original stories felt forced to me in places (really, the Nemean lion becoming -of all things- a Pekinese dog?), and some of them were too short for me to allow Poirot to do his thing. Sometimes he just arrived and went "Aha!" and that was it, and one rather confusing time he traveled from London to Paris, to Italy, to Switzerland for one case, in one story ...more
Not her best work, the short stories are often pretty mediocre and, which is rather worse, Agatha runs off on her pet hobby horse of 'Drugs! Bad! Demon, Devil!' quite a bit. When she does this it becomes slightly reminesent of that gawds awful nightmare she wrote when, I charitably assume, she had gone totally senile and gaga - Passenger to Frankfurt527].
While I respect Agatha Christie for her contributions to the mystery genre, I have to admit I'm not necessarily a big fan of much of her work.

I've liked a good deal of what I've read, but for the most part little of it seems to end up on my list of favorite mystery stories or she on my list of favorite mystery writers.

But every once in a while, I'll admit something about a Christie mystery or story captures my attention and I'm inclined to pick it up. In this case, it's the hook for this collect
Moonlight Reader
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vintage-women
I am admittedly not a short story reader. I have now, however, read every last Hercule Poirot and the vast majority of the rest of the Christie full-length canon, so I have no choice but to dip into Agatha's short stories.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was delightful. The stories are loosely linked with a theme, and there is one character - Amy Carnaby - who shows up in two of the stories. I loved Amy Carnaby and I dearly wish that Christie had given her a book or two. I actually pre
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: diehard fans
The premise of the collection does seem a little forced, but it is after all better than the nursery rhymes Christie was so fond of. Many of the stories feature rather ingenious ideas. But they are not detective stories at all! Where's the detection? - in almost all cases Poirot just has a real good look and suddenly he knows; we aren't treated to his thought processes, and there is nothing else to chew upon at all.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is among the better works in the Poirot series. The 1st chapter or the Forward, introduces the premise, which immediately got me hooked. Very different concept.
Congratulations to Agatha Christie for convincingly giving practical instances, explaining the allegory in the 12 labours of Hercules!
She has grasped the crux of it and has beautifully narrated the 12 stories to show how the labours weren't really insane or fantastical.
Many long time Christie fans know that Hercule would go on and on about retiring (at least it felt like it) well in this collection we have Hercule talking about going into retirement and growing the perfect vegetable marrow. This makes me think that the events in this collection all occur before the events in "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd." Poirot's conversation with his friend, Dr. Burton leads into the Greek hero named Hercules and his 12 labors that he undertook. What did make me laugh was Po ...more
Stephen McQuiggan
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fussy little Belgian decides, like his mythical namesake, to undertake twelve labours before he retires. After that, he plans to do things with marrows. Like a pair of comfy old slippers, and I don't mean that in a derisory way. A marvelous conceit, each labour cleverly, symbolically linked - the cleaning of the Aegean stables transforms into the hushing up of a political scandal etc. No strain on the little grey cells, just warm pleasure. Christie is literary cocaine.
Dawn Michelle
Hercule Poirot is thinking of retiring and has decided to take on only 12 more cases - 12 cases that resemble the 12 labors of Hercules [since he himself is semi-named after the god] and so the book begins. It is a delightful romp through 12 stories, some that tax even the unflappable Poirot. There are several that were my favorite as who was the perpetrator was NOT EVEN CLOSE to being who I thought it was and it was delightful to be proven wrong.

A very delightful listen - Hugh Fraser is one of
I loved the theme the labors of Hercules. I didn’t love the drugs. That always makes me feel creeped out. I get that criminals get involved in a host of debase schemes.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dying2read
Just finished The Labours of Hercules the 26th volume of Hercule Poirot adventures.

The premise is that Hercule has made a pact with himself to take on only twelve more cases before he retires to take up gardening. Not just any case but one that simulates the twelve labors of the Greek hero Hercules... not by brute strength but by the little gray cells!

So twelve entertaining short stories follow.

Obviously Hercule did not retire at volume 26, for there are a total of 41 volumes under Poirot's mon
Katheryn Thompson
When a Classicist comments on the peculiarity of Hercule Poirot's name, given how little he resembles Hercules, Poirot sets out to prove him wrong, choosing twelve final cases before his retirement based on the twelve labours of Hercules.
Reading Classics and English at university, I naturally love the concept. Although the rigid structure and the shortness of the stories means that the cases aren't overly complicated, they are all interesting in their own right as well as within the overall prem
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Labours of Hercules is yet another work of wonder by the fantastic Agatha Christie.

Given certain recent circumstances, my reading attention span/frequency has been slightly hit-and-miss, hence why I have just been falling back on Agatha Christie for the past two weeks. To read one of her short story collections was simply fantastic! Here is a breakdown...

The Nemean Lion - 5 stars
An absolute classic! Poirot investigates the kidnapping of a Pekingese dog (you read that correctly). Not his favo
Kirsten McKenzie
Every story in this book had a unique twist, an unexpected end. Agatha Christie is the master of the red herring, and reading these stories was an education in how to write.
Laura Verret
Hercule Poirot does not underestimate his abilities. No, no – he is the best. And while he does not resemble that powerful demi-god, Hercules, he thinks that his brain, it is no less inferior than Hercules’ body. In fact, he is capable of achieving his own labour of Hercules!

The Stories.

The Nemean Lion. Hercule Poirot is outraged, insulted. Miss Lemon has suggested that he investigate the kidnapping of a Pekinese dog. How utterly beneath him! And yet, when he reads the owner’s letter, it is inte
In the Labors of Hercules (1947), Hercule Poirot is visited by his friend Dr. Burton who winds up remarking upon Poirot's unusual given name and is aghast when he finds that the detective has never read the classical stories about Hercules. When the talk moves on to Poirot's intended retirement, a comparison comes up between him and the twelve labors of Hercules. Poirot is interested and has Miss Lemon get him books on the classic hero. At first he is appalled by this hero--"Take this Hercules-- ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This was a fantastic ending to my Poirot read-through. I loved the stories, loved how they were connected, was planning to give it five stars thanks to quips such as Japp’s

"Nobody minds a Tory politician spending money on riotous living, because the taxpayers think it's his own money. But when it's a Labour man, the public feel its their money he's spending."

So it would seem.

But then we come to Poirot who stabbed me right in the heart, when after countless novels and short stories and hours sp
Brooklyn Tayla
I really really loved this! Taking the form of 12 short stories, Agatha Christie's beloved Belgian endeavours to find 12 cases - special cases that strike resemblances to Poirot's own namesake, Hercules.

These stories also mark appearances of not only the always faithful Georges (Poirot's valet), but Miss Lemon and Chief Inspector Japp, and Countess Vera Rosakoff appeared in a few of these stories. (I really don't like her- though I guess that's just the jealous fangirl in me talking).

But anyway
The book is a series of short episodes that echo the labours of Poirot's classical namesake, Hercules.

Poirot is completely switched on, even when solving 'lesser' crimes to do with drug dealing, theft, blackmail in addition to murder and attempted murder.

I prefer the more developed mysteries in Christie's other novels, but I still found each episode highly ingenious and Poirot as charming as ever.
Jannah (Cloud Child)

It was fun to return to the shorter adventures with my favourite pompous fatherly Belgian Poirot again in this short set. Though Ive read it countless times before and yes I did manage to guess a few things, as the story patterns are more obvious to me these days for Christies books. They were all entertaining if some a little predictable. The overall premise of matching each story to a Herculean task was a little far but meh.
Elsa K
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Agatha Christie or mystery fans
Sometimes I read Agatha Christie books as fillers between other books. They always come through to amuse. This book was different as it was 12 short stories instead of one narrative. This made it nice as light reading during the holidays. I haven't read an Agatha Christie I didn't like!
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Agatha Christie L...: July 2014 - The Labours of Hercules 18 110 Jul 13, 2015 12:51PM  

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Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in t

Other books in the series

Hercule Poirot (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
  • The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot, #2)
  • Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot, #3)
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4)
  • The Big Four (Hercule Poirot, #5)
  • The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot, #6)
  • Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot, #7)
  • Peril at End House (Hercule Poirot, #8)
  • Lord Edgware Dies (Hercule Poirot, #9)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)
“Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.” 487 likes
“My remarks are, as always, apt, sound, and to the point. (Hercule Poirot)” 14 likes
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