Reading the Detectives discussion

Cat Among the Pigeons (Hercule Poirot, #36)
This topic is about Cat Among the Pigeons
32 views
Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot Boddy Read 34 Spoiler Thread: Cat among the pigeons

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Jessica | 367 comments Enjoy your spoilers here!


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2093 comments I liked it, but was waiting for Poirot to appear. The girls school made for a different setting, and maybe an older man hanging about asking questions would have seemed a bit wrong. I have to admit, I wish the name the two main girls had, had different names as I did get a bit muddled. I can't help thinking that we will all be looking at women's knees now! I did think the hiding place for the jewels was very obvious early on, and had suspicions about who was the murderer, but hadn't realised that the second murder was committed by Chaddy.


message 3: by Susan in NC (last edited Sep 05, 2020 07:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Me, too, on waiting for HP to appear - kept expecting some highly placed minister with a niece at the school, to mention him! This was a fun way to introduce him, though, because I immediately thought of the funny Summerhayes household and the horrible food! Yes, I’ll be checking out knees - I’ve read that before, actually- that it’s hard for older women to change the appearance of knees, necks, elbows, and oddly, the top of the arms, where they meet the trunk! I guess any joint, where older skin has lost its youthful elasticity, starts to wrinkle a bit. Cheery thoughts for us older folks this Saturday morning! ;)

Same, on Chaddy - hadn’t a clue! Also, in the no clue department, did we have any foreshadowing on the young prince having an English wife and child out there? I couldn’t figure out where that was going until the little kid came in...


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2093 comments Haha I knew my jeans were my best friends. The wife and child were a complete surprise to me.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Lol! And no sleeveless shirts (and a bit of a crew neck or mock turtleneck would not go amiss as I just turned 55...)😂


Jessica | 367 comments I enjoyed this one so much! Have to admit that once or twice I was checking if I was reading the correct book because there wasn't a hint of Poirot anywhere! That distracted me very much at some point, I wasn't paying as much attention to the clues because I just kept wondering in what way it would be at all possible that Poirot would become envolved. And really, the running away of a school girl... didn't buy it. But it was completely worth it for the fun memories of his suffering in the Summerhayes household and the pride one can have in making a good omelet. (I could use a lesson in that myself i fear haha)


Jessica | 367 comments Yes, wife and child were a surprise for me as well but I was glad that the mr Robinson turned out to be one of the good guys (I wondered, especially in the last scene with Poirot)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Jessica wrote: "Yes, wife and child were a surprise for me as well but I was glad that the mr Robinson turned out to be one of the good guys (I wondered, especially in the last scene with Poirot)"

I was relieved, as well - but kind of sad, too, that the prince already had a family, but didn’t get to stay with or acknowledge them. But it was very satisfying that the wife would now be able to provide for the unofficial little prince.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Jessica wrote: "I enjoyed this one so much! Have to admit that once or twice I was checking if I was reading the correct book because there wasn't a hint of Poirot anywhere! That distracted me very much at some po..."

I could use omelette lessons, as well!


Robin I really enjoyed this one, and didn't miss Poirot at all. He came into the novel when it was necessary - the jewels were dealt with; the school girl's safety was dealt with; he starred at the end.

I think that Christie was concentrating on developing the characters of the school girls and the idea of a school that was different enough to encourage them to think. At the same time, less imaginative girls are not forgotten, and given some positive aspects. I really liked the way in which Miss Rich's pregnancy and outcome was accepted by Miss Bulstrode (all those wonderful Misses who have profession that they love, do not feel compelled to marry, are happy in their dedicated spinsterhood!)

I agree about the sadness of the little English family. However, although the family was not foreshadowed, the way of life for the prince was, The arranged marriage was raised early in the novel by the princess; the way of life that was different from the prince's English life. And, as has been pointed out, the jewels went to the people the prince wanted to benefit.

In relation to the jewels Christie did her work: she didn't just slip over the legal ramifications of their having been brought into the country unacknowledged. She dealt with this with a reasonable explanation.

This novel, to me, really showed hard work at plotting and characterisation and was far more satisfying than some of the others we have looked at.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Robin wrote: "I really enjoyed this one, and didn't miss Poirot at all. He came into the novel when it was necessary - the jewels were dealt with; the school girl's safety was dealt with; he starred at the end. ..."

I agree, it was very satisfying, for all the reasons you stated so well. Indeed, if I hadn’t gone into it thinking of it as a Poirot mystery, I wouldn’t have been looking for him at all - and when he did get involved, I like that it was at one of the thoughtful schoolgirl’s behest. You’re right, I overlooked how satisfying and intelligent it was that Miss Bulstrode didn’t get hung up on Miss Rich’s pregnancy, she just wanted to tap her devotion and skill as an educator.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Robin wrote: "I really enjoyed this one, and didn't miss Poirot at all. He came into the novel when it was necessary - the jewels were dealt with; the school girl's safety was dealt with; he starre..."

I know I read this decades ago, and had more recently seen the Suchet TV version, but I didn’t know what to expect going in, and very much enjoyed it!


message 13: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue (mrskipling) | 250 comments I actually enjoyed the early part of the book, without Poirot, more than the later part. I think the book would have been fine without Poirot showing up at all, to be honest! In fact I'd go further and say that perhaps she shoe-horned him in because her publishers wanted another Poirot novel. I've read that she got tired of him and really wanted to move on. This was published in 1959 and it wouldn't surprise me to know that she wrote it originally as a standalone novel. It seemed to me as though the first half worked on its own merits, rather than just being a "setting up" section awaiting the main character's entrance. I hope that makes sense!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Funny you mention that, in another GR group, I’ve been introduced to the Cold War Spy thrillers of Helen MacInnes, and the beginning gave me that vibe! Like she was going for the spy thriller genre, and yes, fit Poirot in for the last bit; I really felt the headmistress and schoolgirls were more the star of this mystery. I always enjoy Poirot’s appearances, and enjoyed the reference to the chaotic Summerhayes house from a previous case, so it seemed to fit and work that clever young Julia engineered his entrance on to the scene.


Robin Sue wrote: "I actually enjoyed the early part of the book, without Poirot, more than the later part. I think the book would have been fine without Poirot showing up at all, to be honest! In fact I'd go further..."
I think that you are right. I have read about the publishers' demand for Poirot mysteries, and this one seems to reflect that demand. It could well have been another They Came to Baghdad or Destination Unknown, in concept and execution. We might then have had more of the family who would receive the jewels, for example. I so loved the school girls, their parents, and the teachers' characterisations. They were so clever, and really pointed. I began wondering about my own parenting - the carry on about children being special, sensitive etc. And the marvellous response to those who wanted to remove their daughters - Miss Bulstrode's and the daughters! So sensible.

I agree with you, Sue in NC, about the Summerhayes. I really liked the Poirot role in that, and the mess he had to endure, as well as the omelette reference. That made it worth introducing him. But on a more serious note, we did have to have the reference to the legal matters re the jewels, so perhaps Poirot was essential for that - a character we trust to do the right thing.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Robin, excellent point about Poirot and the jewels. I also agree about the questioning our “modern” parenting, where every child is special and sensitive - clearly, Miss Bulstrode believes in raising/educating children to be independent, logical thinkers, and resilient. I thought, oh, great, I read to escape from concerns in real life, like Covid, and “will my son be okay now that he’s trying to get out into the world” - really don’t want to think about the self-doubt!😂


message 17: by Nick (new)

Nick | 110 comments On Poirot’s late entrance: I have also read that Christie became weary of Poirot, reflected in Ariadne Oliver’s irritation with Sven. It’s natural for readers to readily want to read a book that is not only by a familiar author but involving a familiar central character. No doubt Christie and her publisher’s knew this. But it may not be that Poirot was a late addition, just that Christie was only too happy to minimise his involvement. There are other books where she does this.
On the second murderer: The different modus operandi of the second murder suggested to me that there might be a second murderer. The third murder narrowed down the suspects to Eileen Rich or Ann Shapland. I then couldn’t find a means to rule out Eileen Rich, but suspected Ann Shapland because of the potential Christie sleight of hand with regard to Ann Shapland having an alibi for the second murder. This is not the first time when it’s actually been seeing a potential Christie sleight of hand that has artificially pointed me in the right direction rather than conventially working out whodunnit - a kind of meta-clue!


Jessica | 367 comments I know that it is commonly accepted that Christie became weary of Poirot. In the case of this book I like to think that she neared the end and thought hmm now what could make it EVEN more fun? Oh wait, I'll add Hercule!


message 19: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 332 comments While reading the GA writers I have learnt to disregard the stray comments about the natives as otherwise there would be so many authors that I would have had to avoid.

But I do have a problem when a native is brought in as a character with a speaking role. Thus the South Asian and African students in Hickory Dickory Dock were quite irritating. This became even worse with the character of Ali as he was depicted as a weak ruler because of his love of democracy - obviously unsuitable for a non-Western ruler. Further he was made unsuitable because of his education in a good English school where he presumably came to love fair play etc. This completely neglects the fact that lot of Englishmen were able to study in such schools and yet rule over non-Westerners in a despotic manner.

I also found the mystery to be unsatisfactory. Ann Shapland with her frequent vacations was clearly a very suspicious character. The red herring of one of the neighbouring rooms being occupied by a group of English school teachers was rather unfair! As was the glimpse into Miss Chadwick's mind immediately prior to the murder of Miss Vansittart.


message 20: by Robin (last edited Sep 16, 2020 03:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin Bicky wrote: "While reading the GA writers I have learnt to disregard the stray comments about the natives as otherwise there would be so many authors that I would have had to avoid.

But I do have a problem whe..."



On the other hand, in reference to A Cat...I liked the way in which the students and their parents were depicted (in the main) and acceptance of a range of attitudes, aptitudes and backgrounds.


message 21: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 332 comments Robin wrote: ".I liked the way in which the students and their parents were depicted (in the main) and acceptance of a range of attitudes, aptitudes and backgrounds. ..."

The depiction of schoolgirls etc. was OK. I guess I have been spoiled by Enid Blyton who I remember as having depicted the ideal boarding school admirably. Of course, it has been many years since I read her.



Robin Bicky wrote: "Robin wrote: ".I liked the way in which the students and their parents were depicted (in the main) and acceptance of a range of attitudes, aptitudes and backgrounds. ..."

The depiction of schoolgi..."


I read Malory Towers recently as someone mentioned it on Facebook. I'd never read it. The students were worth reading about, I agree.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments It’s quite good but goes on for rather a long time before Poirot appears. More of a school story than a detective story really.


Robin Louise wrote: "It’s quite good but goes on for rather a long time before Poirot appears. More of a school story than a detective story really."

I am wondering if this might show Christie's capacity for using Poirot adroitly, rather than make a story only about him?

I like that a school girl is given agency in bringing him into the story, rather than the usual male character such as Inspector Japp. In this novel I see Christie managing something quite different, omitting Poirot until essential (she seems to have tired of him; I think that Ariande's dislike of her detective is telling).

Perhaps quite a clever story in many ways - doing as her publisher wanted, but maintaining control.


Frances (francesab) | 389 comments I really enjoyed this one, I liked the complicated plot and the friendship between the girls. I'd like to have known more about Mrs Upjohn-she and her daughter seem particularly interesting.

I also really enjoyed Miss Bulstrode's explanation of her plans for the school-that it has to be posh to be desirable, and then you can bring in the girls who will make it great. I wonder how well that works in real life...


message 26: by Robin (last edited Oct 01, 2020 12:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin Frances wrote: "I really enjoyed this one, I liked the complicated plot and the friendship between the girls. I'd like to have known more about Mrs Upjohn-she and her daughter seem particularly interesting.

I als..."

Your point about Miss Bulstrode's explanation for her school ethos is really worth thinking about. The comments about the different sorts of cars arriving disgorging the pupils was a graphic description of the income levels of the girls. For example, I recall a grubby Morris Minor , contrasting with the opulence of the Princess's car. Certainly, even in relatively egalitarian Australia, posh re a school is a positive factor in some minds. Academic achievement is another factor. Diversity is something that many parents want, and it seems that Miss Bulstrode was appealing to those sorts of parents as well as the wealthy.

I agree about Mrs Upjohn - imagine just catching public busses instead of going on an organised tour. I recall being in Washington when all the tourist sites were closed because of the snow. My friend, my daughter (14 at the time) and I therefore caught a public bus into the suburbs. It was fantastic. The other passengers laughed at the idea of anyone going out for pleasure in the awful weather, and joined the bus driver in giving us an informational tour of the areas we were traversing- where his sister worked at a childcare facility, the best hamburger bar etc! But where Mrs Upjohn ventured - perhaps not.

Yes, a good read.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2948 comments Frances wrote: "I really enjoyed this one, I liked the complicated plot and the friendship between the girls. I'd like to have known more about Mrs Upjohn-she and her daughter seem particularly interesting.

I als..."


Excellent point about the school - I agree, I know when it came time for our son to go to school, we looked for certain things - mainly academic excellence to be ready for university. I think the high school strived for diversity, with scholarships, etc., and international students attending, which brought together various classes and backgrounds, which added a lot to the atmosphere.


Tara  | 812 comments My version of the book had a character list in the front that also listed the page number they enter into the story, so I had a good idea going in that Poirot would arrive rather late. It also specifically called out that Ann had an alibi for one of the murders, which should have been more of a clue than I picked up on.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, especially in the latter half of the book when the pace picked up.
I've heard it said that the mark of a great chef is how well they can make an omelet (the simpler a dish, the harder it is to hide mistakes.) So maybe there is hope for Mrs. Summerhayes after all.


back to top