“My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world”.
– Agatha Christie, The Mystery of the Blue Train.
One of our newly acquired detective and thriller titles this month is Sophie Hannah’s latest novel, which features one of the most beloved detectives of all time, Hercule Poirot. Hercule Poirot’s Silent night is set during the Christmas season and is a fabulous addition to the Hercule Poirot body of work.
The Belgian detective was of course created by Agatha Christie and features in thirty-three of the queen of crime’s novels, not to mention two plays and fifty-one short stories. He first saw the light of day in Agatha’s first published novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920 and written during World War One. Agatha Christie served as a nurse in WW1 and was witness to a large number of well-educated Belgian refugees sheltering in Britain at the time, one of the key incidents that helped create the master detective.
Agatha Christie also acknowledged the influence of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works on Poirot’s creation and development, especially in his early years. Poirot’s name was derived from two other fictional detectives, Marie Belloc Lowndes’ Hercule Popeau and Frank Howel Evans’ Monsieur Poiret.
The detective has proved a firm favourite with many film directors and television producers for many generations. He has also proved a very popular role to play with some of the most famous actors of their times, such as Charles Laughton, Orson Welles, Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, David Suchet and Kenneth Branagh, to name but a few.
Interestingly, Agatha Christie quickly found Poirot to be an “insufferable” character and is on record as saying she felt that he was a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep”. However due to his great popularity with her writing public she refused to kill him off.
The library holds copies of all the Hercule Poirot books written by Agatha Christie, as well as many of the works by other writers that feature the famous detective. You can find more information on these titles here.
Hercule Poirot’s Silent night / Hannah, Sophie
“It’s 19 December 1931. Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are called to investigate the murder of a man in the apparent safe haven of a Norfolk hospital ward. Catchpool’s mother, the irrepressible Cynthia, insists that Poirot stays in a crumbling mansion by the coast, so that they can all be together for the festive period while Poirot solves the case. Cynthia’s friend Arnold is soon to be admitted to that same hospital and his wife is convinced he will be the killer’s next victim, though she refuses to explain why. Poirot has less than a week to solve the crime and prevent more murders, if he is to escape from this nightmare scenario and get home in time for Christmas.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
The Golden Gate / Chua, Amy
“In Berkeley, California, in 1944, Homicide Detective Al Sullivan has just left the swanky Claremont Hotel after a drink in the bar when a presidential candidate is assassinated in one of the rooms upstairs. A rich industrialist with enemies among the anarchist factions on the far left, Walter Wilkinson could have been targeted by any number of groups. But strangely, Sullivan’s investigation brings up the specter of another tragedy at the Claremont, ten years earlier: the death of seven-year-old Iris Stafford, a member of the Bainbridge family, one of the wealthiest in all of San Francisco. Some say she haunts the Claremont still. The many threads of the case keep leading Sullivan back to the three remaining Bainbridge heiresses, now adults…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The seven / Hammer, Chris
“Yuwonderie’s seven founding families have lorded it over their district for a century, growing ever more rich and powerful. But now—in startling circumstances—one of their own is found dead in a ditch and homicide detectives Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan are sent to investigate. Could the murder be connected to the execution of the victim’s friend thirty years ago—another member of The Seven—or even to the long-forgotten story of a servant girl on the brink of the Great War? What are the secrets The Seven are so desperate to keep hidden? With the killer still on the loose and events spiralling out of control, the closer Ivan and Nell get to discovering the truth, the more dangerous their investigation becomes. Can they crack the case before more people die?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
Miss Morton and the spirits of the underworld / Lloyd, Catherine
“Lady Caroline is happy to be back amid the swirl of London society, guiding her employer’s daughter, Dorothy Frogerton, through her first Season. Dorothy has been declared “an original” by a patron of the exclusive social club, Almack’s, and is sifting through potential suitors. Mrs. Frogerton, meanwhile, finds her own diversions, including spiritualist gatherings at the home of Madam Lavinia, and begs Caroline to come along. Caroline is skeptical of Madam’s antics and faux French accent–until she slips a note into Caroline’s hand, which contains intimate family knowledge. Even as Caroline tries to discern whether the spiritualist’s powers are real, a much darker mystery presents itself. Madam Lavinia is found lifeless in her chair, a half-empty glass of port at her elbow…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
A traitor in Whitehall / Kelly, Julia
“1940, England: Evelyne Redfern, known as “The Parisian Orphan” as a child, is working on the line at a munitions factory in wartime London. When Mr. Fletcher, one of her father’s old friends, spots Evelyne on a night out, Evelyne finds herself plunged into the world of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet war rooms. However, shortly after she settles into her new role as a secretary, one of the girls at work is murdered, and Evelyne must use all of her amateur sleuthing expertise to find the killer…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Rivers of treason / Maitland, K. J.
“London, 1607. As dawn breaks, Daniel Pursglove rides north, away from the watchful eye of the king and his spies. He returns, disguised, to his childhood home in Yorkshire – with his own score to settle. The locals have little reason to trust a prying stranger, and those who remember Daniel do so with contempt. When a body is found with rope burns about the neck, Daniel falls under suspicion. On the run, across the country, he is pursued by a ruthless killer whose victims all share the same gallows mark. Are these the crimes of someone with a cruel personal vendetta – or has Daniel become embroiled in a bigger, and far more sinister, conspiracy?” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Spanish diplomat’s secret / March, Nev
“Captain Jim Agnihotri and his wife Lady Diana Framji are embarking to England in the summer of 1894. Jim is hopeful the cruise will help Diana open up to him. Something is troubling her, and Jim is concerned. On their first evening, Jim meets an intriguing Spaniard, a fellow soldier with whom he finds an instant kinship. But within twenty-four hours, Don Juan Nepomuceno is murdered, his body discovered shortly after he asks rather urgently to see Jim. When the captain discovers that Jim is an investigator, he pleads with Jim to find the killer before they dock in Liverpool in six days, or there could be international consequences. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Murder in Drury Lane / Riley, Vanessa
“Pressed into a union of convenience, Lady Abigail Worthing knew better than to expect love. Her marriage to an absent lord does at least provide some comforts, including a box at the Drury Lane theater, but on one particular June evening everything collides, and the performance takes an unwelcome turn… Onstage, a woman emits a scream of genuine terror. A man has been found dead in the prop room, stabbed through the heart. Abigail soon discovers a tangled drama that rivals anything brought to the stage, involving gambling debts, a beautiful actress with a parade of suitors, and the very future of the Drury Lane theatre…” (Adapted from Catalogue)