An Odd1's Reviews > The Big Four

The Big Four by Agatha Christie
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did not like it

Decided disappointment - or meant to be taken in fun? The plot shapes up like an impossible farce. The conspirators plan to rule the world. "Number One" is the unseen brains, Chinese Li Chang Yen. "Two" is multimillionaire American Soap King Abe Ryland. "Three" is idolized brilliant Parisian chemist Mme Olivier. Their assassin "Number Four" is young actor Claud Darell. Or is he? are they?

The elusive Four litters the landscape with corpses as an author's device to add yet another disguise. Captain Hastings contentedly (?) leaves his wife of two years ("2 year itch" rather than 7?) in the Argentine to narrate this year July-July with detective pal Poirot, replaced by identical twin. (Like fictional TARDIS time-traveler alien Doctor Who, I cry in shock, "What! .. What!")

Dying words (repeatedly, improbably) provide key clues. The unlikely climax does not even follow the usual formula. The full guilty team do not assemble together and incriminate themselves. Crucially, Poirot has a soft spot for a flamboyant Russian Countess - Rossakoff, who also appears in the deservedly unpublished Poirot short Capture of Cerebrus . (view spoiler).

If you do like this kind of undercover conspiracy tale, maybe try #33 The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba 1928 by Dorothy L. Sayers 1893-1957. A secret society of hooded numbered strangers, all known only to the "One" on top, thrive on passwords and rituals, until dandy Lord Peter Wimsey intervenes.

Too much like Sherlock Holmes, including the faked death, cannot be believed or taken seriously. Each chapter adds another murder, another disguised Four, more dying words, another clue. The talented versatility of Agatha Christie murder methods reminds me of prolific Erle Stanley Gardner The "fate of the whole world" finale is like comic books aka (politically correct) graphic (I always think "explicit") novels.(view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

April 15, 2012 – Started Reading
April 15, 2012 – Shelved
April 15, 2012 –
100.0% "Overboard farce, but seriously..."
May 3, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Pam (new) - rated it 1 star

Pam Yes, my daughter said she didn't believe Agatha Christie really wrote it - that it sounds like a twopenny thriller. I agree.

An Odd1 Pam wrote: "Yes, .. twopenny thriller"
No answer in quick zip to pages 30-32 I am working my way gradually through. In her autobiography she credits her brother-in-law, that he advised her to lump together some magazine serials to raise quick money when her hubbie Archie dumped her. Maybe part of that?

If she had been making fun of something specific, that I would believe.

Stephanie It really seemed choppy and hard to follow, definitely one of my least favorites of hers. And disappointing because normally I can find part of a plot of something that I love about it...not this time.

Alberto The Cerberus with the Countess was published in Labors of Hercules. An alternate version was unpublished.

MrsER If you read John Buchan's Richard Richard Hannay stories, you will find much similarity in style. It was understandably the fashion to write that kind of story then. Other authors also used the same kind of subject then. If you read with this in mind, you will enjoy the book. Mrs. Christie was a wonderful writer, no matter what she wrote.

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