Friday, January 16, 2015

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Even the great detective Hercule Poirot harbored a deep and abiding fear of the dentist, so it was with some trepidation that he arrived at the celebrated Dr. Morley's surgery for a dental examination.  But what neither of them knew was that only hours later Poirot would be back to examine the dentist, found dead in his own surgery.

Turning to the other patients for answers, Poirot finds other, darker, questions....

This will make 21 Hercule Poirot novels put behind me, which means I only have another 16 of his books to go.  I still have plenty of other books to go through in my Agatha Christie self challenge, but knowing I'm over half way done with Poirot is sort of bitter sweet for me.  I make no secret of that fact that he is not my favorite character of all time.  I find him to be rather pompous and aggravating at times.  But despite all that, deep down, I really do like him.  There has not been a character like him, before or after, and I'm really not looking forward to saying goodbye to him quite yet.

With all that being said, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe is not my favorite Poirot novel, not even close to it.  I think I'm getting rather tired of the few characterizations that Christie used in this one, and it's starting to come off as just a tad bit classist to me.  It get we always need to take the times a book was written in, but I'm tired of how she uses one particular character type all too often, and I'm pretty sure it's not always necessary to the story as a whole. All too often there will be a young man, sometimes a young woman, who is not only from a lower class background, but has wildly different political or economic beliefs from those held by the more "respectable" characters.

They are always described in negative ways, both in appearance and in temperament  There is almost nothing about them that is sympathetic or easy to like, though I tend to like them anyway.  They are rarely ever the killer, but they are always suspected, and sometimes suspected strongly.  Even when the detective, in this case Poirot, figures out they had nothing to do with it, the disdain for that particular character is still there.    This book had two such young men, and they do come across as rather angry and crude, but I can't help but think it's Christie's prejudices at work here.

As far as the mystery itself goes, I guess it was a pretty standard, middle of the road Christie story.  And I guess what I mean by that, was while it didn't blow me away, it was solid and well thought out.  It's never going to hold a place in my labyrinth of a brain.  I will never remember the names of the characters, or the pertinent plot twists, but it was still an okay read for me.  You have to remember this is Agatha Christie, so even a mediocre read like this, is ten times better than the average "cozy" mystery being written today.

Challenges: Vintage Mystery Bingo (O2)


bermudaonion said...

I think you described exactly why I'm not all that anxious to read any more of her work.

Irene McKenna said...

It sounds like this was predictable and unmemorable. Great review!

Yvette said...

Ryan this is one that was turned into a pretty good PBS 'MYSTERY' episode and easy enough to access on youtube - I think. :)

I liked the dentist's sister in this one and the young man (played in the episode by Christopher Eccleston) is very nice to look at even if he is angry and unpleasant most of the time. :)

TracyK said...

I have only read 7 Hercule Poirot mysteries. I am getting back to Agatha Christie books this year and am reading The Secret of Chimneys right now. I have noticed some similarities in character types but so far not enough to irritate me. I always find something charming and interesting in her stories.

Bev Hankins said...

I'm curious, Ryan, did you figure out who did it? I find with Christie that part of her skill was in making characters and plot twists (save the handful of famous ones) that aren't that when I go back and reread her novels years later, I may have a feel for the plot but it's still possible for her to fool me again or at least keep me from figuring it out completely. [Either that or it's my incredibly bad memory... :-)] There are a couple that she manages to distract me with the same red herrings every time.

Phinnea Ravenscroft said...

I've been reading/rereading her, too, but I skipped this one because I'd seen the tv show too recently. It's fading though so I can probably go back to it soon. I'm wondering if it's possible that she's writing those angry young men and women to show that it's silly to be biased against them? I do think she mocks British xenophobia fairly often.

John said...

Oh that dentist book! This is one of my least favorite of Christie's books. It has so many friggin' alternate titles it often leads to confusion for the rookie Christie reader. Over here in the US it has two other titles: in hardcover it was retitled THE PATRIOTIC MURDERS and in paperback it was again retitled AN OVERDOSE OF DEATH. And it's a lot easier to find in the US under that last title. Knowing this will ahead of time will prevent any reader from buying a copy and being tricked into thinking it's a "new" Agatha Christie book.

Asim said...

Great Song
One Two Buckle My Shoe
my son is just one year and six month he always listning song and dance for every time.