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The Hollow (Hercule Poirot, #26)
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Book of the Month Reads > CLOSED June 2014 - The Hollow

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message 1: by Carolyn F. (last edited Jun 13, 2014 12:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Originally published 1946. Features Hercule Poirot.

"The Hollow" is the country estate of flighty Lady Lucy Angkatell, who invites Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, brilliant selfish specialist Dr John Christow and his women, wife, plain unsure Gerda, mistress kind sculptor Henrietta. Actress Victoria occupies next door, the researcher's fiancee dumped fifteen years ago. The doctor lies in a puddle of blood next to the swimming pool, Gerda stands over his body with a gun, while the other guests look suitably shocked.

Also published as Murder After Hours


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Here is June's book!


message 3: by Luffy (last edited Jun 03, 2014 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) After a catastrophic experience with 'Why Didn't they as Evans?' I'm ready for another Agatha Christie book again. Though I think I've read this book in French(La Folie was it?) I'm glad this book is for this month.

EDIT : I don't think this is La Folie. Even better...I'm yet to read this book, methinks.


Katherine Well! I finished the book, so I guess I will make note of it. It was brilliant! It is Agatha Christie though so, no surprise there! For the first few chapters of the book, I really wanted Poirot to enter the story. I'm not sure why? I've never felt that way before when reading a Christie book. Of course, it is a Christie mystery, so I knew a murder was on the horizon, that may be part of it. I also wondered if she wrote more suspense into the story? Later, there was that poem! Well, whatever it was, I was wanting Poirot! I must have thought he could stop the evil deed? Anyway, I did not solve the mystery and I really liked Henrietta!? Who knew? I could see us meeting at a café, pub or tea room and chatting amicably! Anyway, it's a good mystery! I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I did.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
You make it sound wonderful Katherine.

I've just started the audiobook with Hugh Fraser doing the narration.


Brad Friedman | 191 comments You'll like the audiobook, Carolyn. It's the way I re-read all of Christie's books

Katherine, it's interesting that you couldn't wait to have Poirot appear. Christie absolutely HATED having Poirot show up! And I agree: we really don't need him, given that this exceptional Christie is guided by characterization rather than clueing. This is one of my favorites, and it reminds me of one of Christianna Brand's mysteries, where you like all the characters so much, you know you'll feel horrible when you find out which of them "dunnit!" And the victim is one of Christie's most complex: a medical hero with a lousy personal track record - really captures the ego of a man who holds lives in his hands! Oh, and the way Christie delves into the artistic temperament with Henrietta? There is much to discuss!!!


Agata (kawcia) | 5 comments I really enjoyed this book! what a great mystery. I suspected someone else, because there were so many clues pointing to this person, but it would be just too easy. I also get frustrated when murder takes place too lte into the story, I don't like to wait almost half ofnthe book for Poirot to finally show up. But it was worth it this time.


Denise (dulcinea3) | 262 comments Sorry I'm late with this comment, but now that I'm ready to start reading, I find that this one also has an alternate American title - Murder After Hours.


Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) I enjoyed reading the book but was let down by an underwhelming denouement. One of the least stellar endings of all of AC's books. I give this book 2/5 stars - the murder wasn't clever enough. Better luck next time, maybe.


message 10: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments I think that if a reader examines The Hollow in light of Christie's clever mysteries of the 1930's, he is going to be disappointed. But I think that, by this time, Dame Agatha was going for something more. I see this book as less a mystery and more of a novel with murder. It makes sense to me that Christie would resent feeling "forced" to put Poirot into this book and it shows in the lack of real detection that goes on. This whodunit doesn't need Poirot and I would say that, much as I love the little Belgian, he doesn't help matters here.

So what does The Hollow have that makes me rate it so high? First, the characterization is first-rate, and while others have complained that the murdef happens too late, I appreciate getting to know John Christow, his wife, and the various members of the Angkatell family. These characters feel less like mystery "types" and much more flesh and blood than is typical of Christie. Plus, most of the characters are so likable that it becomes more emotionally gripping as you get closer to discovering who the murderer is because there are so many people you don't want it to be. This is very different from earlier books like Peril at End House, Three Act Tragedy and Death in the Clouds, where the killer "seems" likable but is actually quite monstrous.

I also love the way Christie explores the various mind sets of the characters, from the artistic temperament of Henrietta (who finds even her grief inspiring her to sculpt, almost against her will) to the inspired lunacy of Lucy, to the prosaic salesgirl temperament of poof relation Midge, to the false sense of superiority that David shares with most teenagers, to the tragic sense of domestic failure that fills poor Gerda's every moment. I felt genuinely moved throughout the extended climax of the book, from the reveal of the solution to the final unfolding of each character's fate. I'm a big fan of dying messages, a technique that Christie rarely uses but always in an interesting way. (The message on Justice Wargrave's body in And Then There Were None is also clever in the way if reveals a clue to the killer's identity!)

Finally, I know that those who read Christie for her clueing will be disappointed here, but I contend that this is not a book where she intended to show off that skill. (Same with Crooked House later: although there ARE more clues there for us to sort through, Christie was going for something bigger.i think the solution to The Hollow is very satisfying, but I acknowledge this comes from a place that is different from a lot of Christie's other classics.

I guess we could argue about whether a writer known for her mystery plotting should attempt to go in a different direction. For me, The Hollow still contains the qualities that make it a top drawer Agatha Christie/Hercule Poirot mystery.


message 11: by Edward (new)

Edward Turbeville (edward_turbeville) | 17 comments The television adaptation of this, starring David Suchet as Poirot, is superb.

Christie actually omitted Poirot from the theatrical version a few years later but he's preserved in the TV version.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Edward wrote: "The television adaptation of this, starring David Suchet as Poirot, is superb."

I agree Edward, I found the locating of the gun more compelling in the TV program. The whole time I was reading it, I was seeing the TV show.


message 13: by Mitali (last edited Jun 13, 2014 03:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mitali | 52 comments I agree with Brad that 'The Hollow' is less focused on the mechanics of the murder and more focused on the characters.

The character who fascinates me most is Henrietta, one of Christie’s most memorable heroines. The heroines of her past books are mostly ‘bright young things’ like Tuppence Beresford or Bundle Brent: smart, lively, happy young women. Henrietta is an altogether deeper and more tragic figure. She has some predecessors in Christie’s works: Elinor Carlisle from ‘Sad Cypress’ is tragic heroine as well, as is Jacqueline de Bellefort from ‘Death on the Nile’ – though both in completely different ways than Henrietta. The closest analogy I see to Henrietta is Caroline Crale in ‘Five Little Pigs’.

The love triangle at the heart of both ‘The Hollow’ and ‘Five Little Pigs’ also has certain similarities: two women deeply in love with a fascinating, larger-than-life man, (view spoiler) The idea of children wanting to know the truth about their parents, which sets the present-day plot of ‘Five Little Pigs’ in motion also finds an analogy in ‘The Hollow’, with Poirot telling Henrietta that one day in the future, (view spoiler)

Edward wrote: "The television adaptation of this, starring David Suchet as Poirot, is superb."

Yes, I saw it recently - it's really good, especially at creating the tense atmosphere in The Hollow (the house, that is).

The show is rather hit-or-miss: some episodes are great, while the others are abysmal, especially the ones that change the story and/or characterization for no fathomable reason at all (worst offenders: 'Murder on the Orient Express' and 'Taken at the Flood').


message 14: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Mitali wrote: "I agree with Brad that 'The Hollow' is less focused on the mechanics of the murder and more focused on the characters.

The character who fascinates me most is Henrietta, one of Christie’s most me..."


I agree with you on everything, Mitali! I also saw similarities to Five Little Pigs (another favorite), but you distilled the plot similarities in your spoiler perfectly; I had not noticed that! I like your references to Elinor and Jacquie as well. We'll see something of that later in Miss Blacklock of A Murder is Announced and Hilary Craven in So Many Steps to Death (a pretty horrible book, but I like Hilary!)

We should have a thread just to talk about the two series (Poirot and Marple). I bet that could go on for YEARS!!! :)


Mitali | 52 comments Brad wrote: We'll see something of that later in Miss Blacklock of A Murder is Announced and Hilary Craven in So Many Steps to Death (a pretty horrible book, but I like Hilary!) "

Yes, Hilary was another similar character that came to mind - though her story, of course, is very different from Henrietta's (I don't mind the book itself so much, but I agree that Hilary herself is the best part of it).

I don't remember Miss Blacklock very well, since it's been well over a decade since I read A Murder is Announced. I'll reread it when we get to it in these Book of the Month threads.


message 16: by Anne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne Pichette | 16 comments I just finished reading the book. I had seen the show on PBS, but like others have said before I really enjoyed the description of the characters. You do not see the characters in detail on the screen as you do in the book. I enjoyed the book more for the description of the characters than the actual murder.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
Brad wrote: "We should have a thread just to talk about the two series (Poirot and Marple). I bet that could go on for YEARS!!! :) "

Go ahead Brad ;) Anyone who would like to add a discussion, feel free.


Joseph Robbins (leer03) | 3 comments I liked the character relationships the best in this book compared with other Agatha Christie novels.


message 19: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I finished this book with the conclusion that who I picked to be the murderer wasn't. It was quite obvious from the start but Agatha always picks some obscure person. Not this time!


Karen Katherine wrote: "Well! I finished the book, so I guess I will make note of it. It was brilliant! It is Agatha Christie though so, no surprise there! For the first few chapters of the book, I really wanted Poirot to..."

I kept wondering when he would show up also.


Karen Edward wrote: "The television adaptation of this, starring David Suchet as Poirot, is superb.

Christie actually omitted Poirot from the theatrical version a few years later but he's preserved in the TV version."

Tried to find this on internet today somewhere, but could not.


Karen Brad wrote: "You'll like the audiobook, Carolyn. It's the way I re-read all of Christie's books

Katherine, it's interesting that you couldn't wait to have Poirot appear. Christie absolutely HATED having Poirot..."


My estimation of the author has taken a nose dive. I think I like the detective more than his creator. I was disappointed in how little he was in this one.


Karen I know I have posted so much, but this is a very interesting conversation. I think I am the odd one out since I did not care for this one really. I was thinking it may be the first Poirot book I did not really care for. When I read a mystery, that is what I want to read. Though Kate Morton's books are somewhat mysterious, if I want deep characters I will read her. I did cringe at the way Gerda had to put up with Mr. self indulgent #@! I kicked my husband to the curb for such actions. It was hard back then to do that. I did not get why Henrietta could love anyone like that and care for the wife at the same time. I am a very artistic person , but could not get over the latter facts of her behavior so she did not jive with me. I did not really like any of them, not even Poirot for his thumb twiddling this time. Maybe Midge slightly.


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
I thought the husband was a selfish dick too Karen. He wants his cake and pie and pudding and to eat them too. It seemed like he only came to appreciate his wife when she had a gun pointed at him. Too little too late asswipe!


Carol (mansonville) | 55 comments Carolyn F. wrote: "I thought the husband was a selfish dick too Karen. He wants his cake and pie and pudding and to eat them too. It seemed like he only came to appreciate his wife when she had a gun pointed at him..."

Just finished this one, and can't help agreeing with you both about John, Gerda's husband. The fact that he was so "alive" hardly makes up for his behaviour.

But I think that Christie was interested in exploring hero-worship (in Gerda) and also aestheticism (James/Wilde) - in Henrietta. I think D.H. Lawrence was also interested in this kind of contrast - real earthy people who "live" versus artists who create but do not really "live," who are more like ghostly echoes of people who do live.

I'm with Brad, that this is definitely a character-driven book rather than a true mystery, but I was fine with that, since I don't read her books for the clever plotting and clueing she often does (interesting new verb - clueing!


Carolyn F. | 4574 comments Mod
I usually feel that a book is good when it gives you a strong reaction. Although the ones that make you want to throw the book across the room don't count. This was a good book to me even though I hated one of the character a lot.


Renee | 447 comments Catching up on the last couple of books and I just finished this one last night. I have to agree with everyone that mentioned characterization in this book. I love how fleshed out all the characters were. The characters (most of them) are likable except for maybe the victim who seemed to want everything his way and everyone to worship him and do what he wants all the time, but for some reason everyone loved him anyway. But in spite of the way he treated Gerda, I did feel bad for him when he died and having Henrietta help her seems like he really did love his wife even more than he might have thought. So he might not have been that bad after all. I have to say that I was a bit surprised by who the murderer was. I had not figured it out myself. I never would have thought of Gerda because she didn't seem the type to kill her husband she was so devoted to. She also didn't seem like she would be able to plan that whole scene by herself which probably is what threw me off a bit. But it was mentioned that she "played up" being dumber than everyone thought she actually was. Henrietta helping her clean up the mess and throwing suspicion off her helped a lot also.

The only way Henrietta could really grieve for him was through her work as mentioned above by Brad and I think she felt bad about that though I did love her going to visit Mrs. Crabtree and talk to her about John as another way to grieve and remember him.

I love Poirot, but I think like Miss Marple in The Moving Finger (she came in rather late in that one also) he probably wasn't really needed and I can see why Christie kept him in the back seat so to speak. I love all the scenes with him, but as others have said he didn't really investigate this one.

I think Mitali brought up some good points about the love triangle in this book (and others) which is what eventually brought the whole murder about. And also about the children wanting to know what happened to their father and why was he killed. Not who killed him, (as Gerda questions) but why, like Terence already knew who had killed him.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I have not seen the Poirot adaptation yet as I always like to finish the book before watching the movie (don't want to spoil the book) and compare them, so I'll have to look for that one. I have not watched many of them so there are quite a few I have to catch up on!


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Murder After Hours (other topics)

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