Monday, 26 February 2018

Sofa Spotlight - Elephants Can Remember, Agatha Christie

For some reason I read the title of this book as Elephants Can’t Remember so I was confused for quite some time before it dawned on me. Anyway the reason why that is important is that this is about a murder/suicide that happened a long time in the past. It takes both Poirot and Ariadne Oliver going around asking people what they remembered from a particular time.

I liked Ariadne Oliver, who is a crime writer, better in this book than I have in other ones. I much prefer Hastings but she did alright in this one. I’m guessing that she is meant to be a bit like Agatha Christie from a couple of things she says about not liking the detective she has created in her novels.

So the problem that they are trying to solve is what happened to General Ravenscroft and his wife. They were both found dead with a revolver between them that had both their finger prints on it. So who killed who? Was it double suicide or murder/suicide? Because it happened such long time the pair have to deal with some fairly old witnesses, who thankfully remember things that help them work it out. These witnesses are referred to as the elephants and there are four of them. Two of them were working in the Ravenscroft household at one time.

The reason this whole thing comes up is that Ariadne Oliver is the godmother of the Ravenscroft’s child, Celia. Celia is engaged to Desmond Burton-Cox and it is Desmond’s mother who wants to know what happened to Celia’s parents. Mrs Burton-Cox is one of those characters you’re not supposed to like, and Poirot finds out what is really behind her not wanting her son to marry Celia.

I liked the book but it’s not as good as other novels by Agatha Christie. From what I can tell it was one of the last novels that she wrote and maybe that’s why it doesn’t have the same kind of punch that the others did. I think it had mixed reviews when it first came out as well.

If you’ve never read a novel by Agatha Christie or one of the Poirot stories this might not be the place to start. There are definitely better places. But if you love the characters then it’s a good one to pick up. I’m sad that Captain Hastings doesn’t make it but I know he is in Final Curtain so that kind of makes it alright. Also might have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t got myself confused by the title! I suppose it would have been a very different book if the elephants couldn’t remember what had happened!

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