Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

Peril at End House

“No seaside town in the south of England is, I think, as attractive as St. Loo.”

Detective: Hercule Poirot

Published: 1932

Length: 270 pages

Setting: St. Loo(e), Cornwall

 

 

Imperial Hotel Torquay

Imperial Hotel, Torquay, Devon (transposed to The Majestic Hotel, St. Looe, Cornwall)
source Wikipedia Commons

Poirot and Captain Hastings are taking a restful vacation at the seaside resort of St. Loo on the Cornish coast.  Poirot is, once again, retired from his detective business and is determined not to return to it, however he cannot resist a young lady in trouble, a lady who has just been shot at, although she suspected the bullet was only a bee buzzing by her ear.  Vowing to get to the root of the mystery and with his faithful sidekick, Captain Hastings to assist, Poirot gathers the numerous and puzzling clues:

  • Why would anyone want to kill Magdala “Nick” Buckley as she has no fortune to speak of and her only possession is the somewhat dilapidated End House, which will pass to her lawyer cousin, Charles Vyse?
  • What precipitates the lazy, sleepy behaviour of Nick’s good friend Frederica “Freddy” Rice?  Why is she not more concerned about the threats to her friend?
  • What about Nick’s maid, Ellen?  Why does she reference a secret hidey-hole that Nick says is not there and why does her behaviour at times appear odd?
  • George Challenger, an English naval commander, is in love with Nick but for Poirot that does not remove him from the suspect list.
  • The Australian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Croft who are tenants of Nick’s and the latter an invalid, appear friendly and helpful but why did they urge Nick to write a will and, in spite of saying they posted it, the will has now disappeared?
  • And where does Michael Seton, the lately deceased world aviator fit in?

With an unexpected murder, the case becomes even more puzzling and one wonders if Poirot’s little grey cells will be up to the task.  Will the murderer be caught or will his devious cleverness prevail?

Torquay near the Imperial hotel

Near the Imperial Hotel (The Majestic Hotel), Torquay (St. Looe) Devon (Cornwall)
source Wikimedia Commons

I was somewhat disappointed that I remembered who the murderer was from watching the TV series, as this novel was quite cleverly constructed.  Yet in spite of the brilliant final outcome and the vacation-style setting, the book left me curiously flat.  Perhaps the stumbling block was the characters who were more pawns on a chessboard and never truly did come to life.  I was also hoping for more descriptions of the Cornwall coast however that also appeared to be sacrificed for plot.  Yet these are only my personal minor quibbles and this mystery is definitely not my least favourite so far.

West Looe

West Looe viewed across the river from East Looe
source Wikipedia

I’ll leave you with a fun quote from the book, as it illustrates Poirot’s character so clearly:

“Really, my friend!  But I will not sit back and say ‘le bon Dieu has arranged everything.  I will not interfere.’  Because I am convinced that le bon Dieu created Hercule Poirot for the express purpose of interfering.  It is my métier.”

 

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10 thoughts on “Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

  1. Pingback: The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie - Classical CarouselClassical Carousel

  2. It’s nice when you forget whodunnit. Then it’s like a whole new mystery all over again!

    But I’m glad you didn’t say, because this is one of the ones I haven’t read.

    • I tend to forget with most of the Agatha Christie mysteries …. except sometimes when I remember, lol! This one is interesting, that’s for certain!

      • Sometimes they’re pretty memorable…I’ve read Roger Ackroyd twice, even though I remembered perfectly well (how could you not!) who had done it.

        Also The Mirror Crack’d for some reason is one I always remember who did it.

  3. Yes, so many Agatha Christies’s so little time. Poirot is my favorite. I hear him in that interesting quote so Poirot like. Le bon Dieu hahaha. Love it. He and Hastings, what a pair.
    I haven’t read many of her books but watched the Poirot classic series and I can see what you point to from a fan point of view that sometimes I too wish Agatha had gone less wide and more deep with her books (more description and character study in a broader way), but I guess she was busy generously producing a feat of a book legacy.

    • Poirot is certainly my favourite with the A&E series and probably with the books as well.

      She did try to go wider and deeper with her first Westmacott book, Giant’s Bread, and I didn’t feel like she went wide and deep very well. So perhaps it was best that she stuck to the systematic mystery. However, that’s judgement on only one Westmacott book so perhaps it’s not really fair. I found her Tommy and Tuppence books a little more developed and also her The Man In The Brown Suit and I enjoyed both of those!

  4. I’m not sure if I have actually read this one. But I did see the adaptation with David Suchet which I really enjoyed. I read Christie with a very generous allowance. The only ones I really don’t like are the spy-like standalones where mysteries are solved by stumbling across clues by accident instead of methodically putting things together a la Poirot or Miss Marple.

    • I love David Suchet as Poirot too. It’s good that the books are such quick reads. They’re like snacks to break up more mentally taxing literature.

      I enjoy mysteries for the most part but I read The Maltese Falcon and didn’t really care for it so perhaps certain types of mysteries don’t do it for me either. But you can’t beat Poirot and Marple.

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