Hercule Poirot has had his share of intruders-yet none more peculiar than the emaciated stranger covered in mud who stumbles into the detective's apartment, shout half-crazed warnings about "the Big Four," and dies. But not before plunging Poirot into a crazy netherworld of international intrigue, secret weapons, kidnapped physicists, underground laboratories, hairbreadth escapes, and an employee from a local insane asylum who's all too eager to let the baffles Belgian in on the sinister secret of "the Big Four".
To be honest when I started this book, that is only 198 pages long, I thought it would be a quick read. Unfortunately it took me two days to get through it, simply because I didn't like it.
You already know I'm a huge Christie fan, hence the whole reading all her books in order, so I'm always a little sad when I come across one that I could do without. As you can tell from the synopsis this one had too much going on for such a short book. Each chapter felt more like a short story that was rewritten to go with a bunch of other short stories. The main threat of "the Big Four" which was the sole continuing thread throughout the book just didn't come off as credible. The Big Four are a quartet of super genius criminals bent on world domination. The only problem was that they were boring and one dimensional. It almost reminded me of a rejected plot for a old Charlie Chan movie.
The only redeeming quality for me was the return of Hastings, our narrator from the first few Hercule Poirot books. He always paints Poirot in a light I find more agreeable. Poirot still comes across as egotistical, but somehow Hastings softens that image and makes Poirot more human to me. For this reason alone I'm glad I read the book, I just wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.
This book will fall under two different challenges, other than my own Agatha Christie self challenge, Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010 and Typically British Reading Challenge 2010 both of which are hosted by the wonderful Carolyn of Book Chick City.