Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Title: Hallowe'en Party
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
First published: 1969
Pages: 240

Rating: 4 out of 10

Though I am not an avid mystery reader, I can't resist picking up any Agatha Christie books that I stumble across, and I found this one at a library book-sale.

It stars Hercule Poirot again - Christie's beloved detective. This time, he is investigating a murder at the request of his friend Ariadne Oliver, a writer who also features in her own run of Christie mysteries. At a party, a young girl boasted of having witnessed a murder, and hours later was found drowned in a game of bobbing apples. Poirot investigates, delving deep into the town's past to try and find any murders that the girl could possibly have seen. However, everyone in town assures him that the victim was a dreadful liar, and that he shouldn't trust a thing she said. So why was she murdered?

This book was easy to read, but I kept putting it down shortly after picking it up. The way it was written simply wasn't very interesting - it was tedious and at times dull. Christie focuses more on making the mystery puzzling than exciting or suspenseful.
Poirot goes about the town questioning everyone that he can think of, not only about the party at which the girl was killed, but also about people in town and events in the past. This took up nearly all of the book, and after awhile, it got more than a bit tiring. Many of the people Poirot interviewed said the same things, with only slight variations, and it got repetitive. There was never any action, just a lot of talking.
I suppose that this was done to give the reader a chance to figure everything out - but I personally would rather see something happen.
I did figure out part of the mystery, which I thought was made a bit too obvious.

Another thing than I didn't like about this book was that there were a suspiciously convenient amount of murders and abnormal deaths in a small town. A woman is strangled, a wealthy elderly woman has a suspect death tied with possible fraud and thievery, someone is killed in a hit and run... For a small town, that's a large amount, in my opinion.

Also, the title of Hallowe'en Party is a bit of false advertising - it isn't even October when this mystery takes place, and the party was Halloween themed but only barely. This isn't a "Halloween" book. And further false advertising - on the back cover of the copy that I have (Berkley Books) it says "...For there isn't a soul in Woodleigh who believes the late little storyteller was even murdered."
What? Yes they do. There is never any doubt. Clearly, whoever wrote the paragraph on the back cover never got around to actually reading the book.
But this book wasn't all bad. I would say that it is an average book, but not altogether horrible.
I liked the character of Miranda, a nymph-like child who reminded me a bit of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter.There was also a nice sense of urgency at the very end, when the mystery was resolved. I won't say anything to give it away, but the ending was satisfying.

This is an average book, but I wouldn't recommend it because there are so many other Agatha Christie books that are far better.