The Big Four by Agatha Christie


I hesitate to use the word “awful” in association with the Queen of Crime, but ‘The Big Four’ is a bad egg. Penned (some say ghost-written) during Dame Agatha’s worst year: In 1926, her mother died and her husband told her he was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce.

No wonder she was off her game, poor dear.

Originally published in serial format, this cluster of overblown spy adventures should never have featured portly, inactive Poirot & poor, clueless Hastings as action-heroes. They simply don’t suit. James Bond and Tintin would have been better cast in these roles.

Moving away from subtle clues and hidden motives, Christie seems to have written a movie script for Michael Bay to direct. There are poisoned blow darts disguised as cigarettes, evil Russian countesses, underground lairs, ninja smoke bombs, mountain fortresses… it’s absurdly over the top. The shark? Agatha has jumped it.

Oh, and the racism. Yikes! Asian people, I apologize for this woeful bag of stereotyped, insulting nonsense. Fu Manchu looks good next to Li Chang Yen and Ah Ling. So embarrassing. As Christie would say, “I welly sorry.” *cringe*

Leave this one on the shelf, and go read one of Christie’s slow-paced village mysteries; they’re so much better. If you’re desperate for an international spy thriller by her, try ‘The Man in the Brown Suit’ instead.

No, really, she can write MUCH better than this…

1) International crime! That doesn’t suck! Agatha’s ‘The Man in the Brown Suit’

2) The first Poirot, and one of the best. Agatha’s ‘Mysterious Affair at Styles’

3) Another brilliant, rule-breaking Poirot. Agatha’s ‘Murder of Roger Ackroyd’

4) Outlandish plot, but not absurdly so. Agatha’s ‘The A.B.C. Murders’

1 of 5 stars / bookshelves: read, mystery, 224 pages, Publisher: Avon (2011 reprint; first published 1927)
Read from July 19 to 25, 2012

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