Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Bookmarks: Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie

I got yet another Poirot mystery from my boss yesterday. Its called Elephants Can Remember. After reading it what I truely want to say is: I wish they couldn't. Christie is nowhere near her usual top form here. There is no real mystery for the reader here. Christie's forte is in letting the reader see all that is visible to her detective, sharing all clues with him, letting him try to figure out the puzzle on his own and still surprising him in the end. Here unfortunately, the reader is able to figure out the solution long before Poirot gets to it. I found myself struggling to concentrate on the plot after the first few chapters, a thing that rarely happens between me and Christie. One of the reasons was the distracting attempts at humour. These come from the person Mrs. Ariadne Oliver. This person is said to be a caricature of Christie herself. Now, I for one believe that caricatures do little to improve any suspense thriller. They merely loosen up the plot. I have never liked this character in any of Christie's novels and must confessed to being biased from the outset. But even by her usual standards, Mrs. Oliver was a little too irritating this time. For instance, the first three pages were devoted to describing her trying on her hats. And it is she who brings up the reference to elephants. Having made her point she, or rather Christie, should have let go of it. But elephants keep coming up in all conversations up to the point where they become tedious. So between Mrs. Oliver and elephants we somehow get to the climax in the twentieth chapter but it isn't really a climax because we already know the solution somewhere around the fifteenth chapter. And to top it all the motive for the crimes is really sentimental mush. The whole plot hinges on the fact that multiple women loved a man and he in turn loved multiple women. The ending where everybody is professing his/her love for everybody else was really embarrasing for me. For anyone not obsessed with eading all Poirot mysteries, reading this one would be an elephantine waste of time.

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