Three Act Tragedy

I can’t figure out if this book deserves four or five stars on goodreads – I ended up at four (goodreads average of the edition I was reading: 3.75). If I had the option of giving it 9 out of 10 I would. Although it’s technically a Poirot mystery, Poirot himself plays only a very minor role in the first half of the book – and that’s part of why it’s not a 10; I missed him and his weird remarks and ‘little ideas’!

But even though Poirot plays a much smaller role in this book than he’s done in the other Christie books I’ve read so far, this is still great stuff. I may still change my opinion and give it five stars. It’s a very clever plot and although you may figure out some of the details, you probably won’t get everything just right before Poirot tells you how all that stuff’s connected.

The edition of the book I was reading incidentally had a handful of spelling and typing errors along the way, including two errors on the same page (p. 233). I’m not sure all of them were the fault of the publisher (‘Did Sir Bartholomew Strange seemed surprised?’) but most of them presumably were. Then again most people probably don’t really care about stuff like that, and I should perhaps point out that this is not why I haven’t given it the five star rating.


August 3, 2013 - Posted by | Books


  1. Christie herself hated Poirot with a passion though. In some of Christie’s books (e.g., ‘Cards on the Table’), she introduced a female character named Ariadne Oliver, who was a writer of detective fiction. Oliver often made derogatory comments about the fictional detective she herself created, and those comments echoed Christie’s own thoughts about Poirot. Personally I find Oliver aggravating and annoying because she often relied on intuition — I very much prefer Poirot’s cool deductive reasoning.

    I recently read ‘Death in the Clouds’ by Christie, and it is a very clever book, but some details that are vital to explaining the murderer’s motive are left out until the last chapter. Nevertheless I’d say it’s still possible to deduce who the culprit is, if you are exceptionally observant (I am not).

    Comment by Miao | August 4, 2013 | Reply

    • (Overlooked your comment yesterday…)

      “Christie herself hated Poirot with a passion though.” … “those comments echoed Christie’s own thoughts about Poiro” – do you know this for certain? Has she said this stuff openly, or are you deducing just from that book?

      Comment by US | August 5, 2013 | Reply


    @Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, Christie was to become increasingly tired of her detective Poirot. In fact, by the end of the 1930s, Christie confided to her diary that she was finding Poirot “insufferable,” and by the 1960s she felt that he was “an ego-centric creep.” However, unlike Doyle, Christie resisted the temptation to kill her detective off while he was still popular. She saw herself as an entertainer whose job was to produce what the public liked, and the public liked Poirot.[66]…”

    “Ariadne Oliver is a fictional character in the novels of Agatha Christie. She is a mystery novelist and a friend of Hercule Poirot. Mrs Oliver often assists Poirot in his cases through her knowledge of the criminal mind. She often claims to be endowed with particular “feminine intuition,” but it usually leads her astray. … In the books, Oliver’s most famous works are those featuring her vegetarian Finnish detective Sven Hjerson. Since she knows nothing of Finland, Oliver frequently laments Hjerson’s existence. In many of her appearances, Oliver — and her feelings toward Hjerson — reflect Agatha Christie’s own frustrations as an author, particularly with the Belgian Hercule Poirot (an example of self-insertion). The self-caricature has also been used to discuss Christie’s own follies in her earlier novels.”

    Comment by Miao | August 5, 2013 | Reply

    • Interesting stuff. I didn’t know this.

      Comment by US | August 5, 2013 | Reply

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