It’s been a while since I got the chance to read an Agatha Christie novel, so I definitely wanted to fit one into January. Thankfully, things are still quiet at work which means I was able to listen to his as an audiobook. I’ve come to the realisation that, even though I love David Suchet as Poroit, I’m not a fan of him as a narrator. I much prefer Hugh Fraser. He just has a much more relaxed and comforting demeanour. He makes the hours just tick by.
All Agatha Christie is good Agatha Christie. However, not all Agatha Christie is created equal. Cards on the Table isn’t my favourite Poirot but it’s not my least favourite either. I do often wonder if I’d enjoy this story more if I understood bridge. That’s not to say that it isn’t a good book but it’s not Christie’s best. There is a lot of bridge chat that I just can’t appreciate and it really pushes me out of the story. Yes, you can still appreciate the murder mystery without an understanding of the game but it would certainly help a bit.
Although, there are still things that make this story stand out. For one, this is the book that introduces Ariadne Oliver to the Poirot world. It wasn’t the author’s first appearance in an Agatha Christie story but it showcases her first meeting with the famous Belgian detective. It’s no surprise that I’m a massive Ariadne fan and, though it’s not her finest house, really enjoy her appearance. She brings another level to the mystery and a counterpoint to the male detectives.
There are 3 of them after all. Cards on the Table is a very neat novel. The set-up is pretty simple and we end up with 4 suspects and 4 people who take a keen interest in solving crime. The two groups of invited to a party hosted by the exuberant Mr Shaitana who collects items relating to crimes. He also claims to collect criminals who have evaded justice. 4 of whom are attending the same dinner party that Poirot is attending. When the host winds up dead, all four of the detectives take turns investigating the crime.
In terms of structure, this is very well-plotted and the set-up is irresistible. It’s one of those Christie novels that I wish I liked more. After all, the final twist to this novel is pretty good. If it wasn’t a bit of a journey to get there, I’d say it would be one of the most memorable. There are better Poirot novels out there but there are worse. And, as I said, this benefits from plenty of Ariadne. As always, she gets some of the best lines and I’m here for it.