Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie


8. Five Little Pigs - an Hercule Poirot mystery
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1942
Kindle book, 6
finished, 2/14/12


Carla Lemarchant comes to Hercule Poirot asking that he investigate a sixteen year old murder case. When she was five years old, her mother was arrested for murdering her father. She has lived with relatives in Montreal since, and when she turned twenty-one was given a letter her mother wrote to her from jail just before she died, saying that she did not do it. It is neither here nor there to Carla. She believes her, and that's that. But she is engaged, and has fears that if she and her fiancé have an argument, he might look at her askance, wondering if she might have inherited her mother's propensity for killing her husband. He denies this, and says he doesn't care, but she still wants Poirot to look into the events of all those years ago, and she hopes he will find her mother innocent.

This may be the most unique of all Agatha's books, for it takes place almost entirely in the memories of the five people who were involved. The title comes from the old nursery rhyme.

Philip Blake is the little pig who 'went to market.' He left his family estate and became a successful stockbroker. His brother Meredith is the little pig who stayed home. He is a quiet man who dabbles in herbal concoctions. Lady Dittisham, Elsa Greer as she was then, is the little pig who had roast beef, having married rich husbands and lived in luxury. Cecelia Williams is the little pig who had none, a governess who watches her pennies in her retirement years. And the last little pig, the one who cried 'wee, wee, wee all the way home' is Angela Warren with the disfigured face.

As usual, I didn't guess the culprit. I was sure a couple of times that I knew what the solution was, but I didn't. Five Little Pigs is one of the more complex, psychological mysteries, and in my opinion, one of Agatha Christie's very best.

I found two other reviews of this book from Kerrie, and Jo.

My copy of Agatha Christie A Reader's Companion


offered the original covers - the one on the left shows the American title, and the right is the English version.




From Agatha Christie At Home,



I learned that Alderbury, Carla's childhood home and the scene of the crime was based on Agatha's beloved Greenway. The name of Carla's artist father was based on a real person from Agatha's past, from her days of amateur theatricals.
Also performing was one Amyas Boston, whose first name Agatha pillaged for the strong-willed artist and murder victim in Five Little Pigs. In her autobiography, she recalls a romantic moonlight picnic with him at Anstey's Cove, where they sat holding hands and not speaking.
How I love thinking of this woman as a young girl much like any other of her day.



And I was thrilled to see this picture of the battery, where Carla's father breathed his last.


... known as the Battery garden... It was situated at about four minutes' walk from the house.

24 comments:

  1. Yes, doesn't it just come all so much more alive when you have some background information and pictures? I have not read this book but it sounds like I'd enjoy it.

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    1. It sure does! I so love these companion books, and pore over them happily after I finish an Agatha book.

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  2. I have not heard of this Christie novel and will get busy looking for it now! Thanks for the great review Nan!

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  3. I'm planning to read my first Agatha Christie next month, but still trying to decide which one. Any suggestions?

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    1. You could click on the authors tab above, go to AC, and then click on the ones I've written about to get an idea of what they are like, if you wanted. After much thought I would say my two favorite standalones, so far, are The Sittaford Mystery and They Came To Baghdad. For a Jane Marple, I really liked A Murder Is Announced. And for Hercule Poirot, I can barely say. This one was excellent. I also really liked the ABC Murders. Each book is different. Each case is different. I just love her work.

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  4. This made it to the top of my list of mysteries read in 2011. Here's my close-of-the-year comments:
    Hercule Poirot mystery #24 by Agatha Christie
    Considered to be among the very best from the grande dame’s pen, this Hercule Poirot mystery focuses on five suspects in a 16-year-old murder. Told in Poirot’s conversation with each, and then an accounting by each in a follow-up letter, at first it seemed repetitive. Then I began to notice small inconsistencies between the stories. This is one of the only Christies that I have solved partway through the book, but rather than being disappointed that it was easy (it wasn’t, )I was fascinated to watch the author misdirecting readers. Very satisfying, and worthy of its reputation

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    1. Great words, Debbie! It was just brilliant.

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  5. Nan, you are one of the very best bloggers. I always learn and get inspired here! Thank you.

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    1. You made my day. Really. Thank you so much.

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  6. Loved this review, Nan. You've made me want to read the book again. Truth to tell I don't remember who did what to whom, so it's time to get reacquainted. Luckily, Christie books are readily available still.

    I do remember reading it under the American title, MURDER IN RETROSPECT.

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    1. Thanks. I have yet to read an AC a second time. I'm still trying to read them all for the first time! Isn't Agatha adorable in that picture?!

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    2. Yes, she was. She really was very attractive in her youth -it was only as he got really older that she became so matronly. But that brain of hers was still so very active even then.

      I always wonder who Archie left her for and did he ever regret it...

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    3. I am very fond of the 'matronly' look. Do women have it anymore? Or did it go the way of antimacassars? Now it seems that older women want to look younger. I say, 'embrace the matron look!'
      I bet ol' Archie regretted losing out on the do re mi. :<)

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  7. As a new Christie admirer I found a lot of great stuff in your post. I didn't realize that the Agatha Christie at Home book added so much to the reading experience. I loved read this!

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    1. Both that book and the Companion book have been so much fun to peruse. I also have one called The Agatha Christie Who's Who with little blurbs on all the characters, but they should be only read after reading the book in which they appear since the plot is often given away in the descriptions.

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  8. I read this one not too long ago and loved it, but I had to go to my Kindle file to see who did it! I remember all the characters. I think that's why I love Agatha so much -- you get so wrapped up in the people that you feel as if you know them. Reading her, I am always sorry when I come to the end of the book.

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  9. I loved this book. Even on rereads, I forget who the culprit is! Thanks for sharing the photos.

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    1. Those companion books are really special.

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  10. Since I'm reading Ms. Christie's books in publication order, it's going to be a while until I get to this one. But, oh, it sounds so good that I want to read it right now. I also enjoy all the extra material about the author from the various books about her. It really does enhance my enjoyment of the books.

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    1. I think I mentioned that I tried that for a while, but then I stopped, and it hasn't mattered much to me. This is a particularly good one. I'm just so amazed at the variety in her writing. She is a marvel.

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  11. I love Dame Agatha! But I do deplore the publishers' habit of changing the titles of the books when they print them for American readers! With purchases available on both Amazon.co and Amazon.co.uk, they don't seem to bother so much any more, which is all to the good. I think I have a copy of "Murder in Retrospect" tucked into my shelves somewhere and will have to search it out and reread it -- your review has really piqued my interest!

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    1. It still goes on today. I don't know why. :<) Well worth it to find your copy and read it again. A couple of people have said they didn't remember whodunnit on the second reading.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.