Sunday, 25 March 2018

Boredom in the Bunker

I am halfway through Julia Baird's remarkable Victoria: The Queen - An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire (2016), a 700+ page history. I am loving this book and regret I don't have more time to read.

I decided to take a break from the Queen to breeze through a quick novel. I greatly enjoyed reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) last year, so thought I would continue Agatha Christie's adventures with Hercule Poirot in his second outing, The Murder on the Links (1923).

I was a bit worried about this book because I hate golf - ('a good walk spoiled' attributed to Mark Twain) - but fortunately one needs to know nothing about golf to appreciate this novel.  The story takes place on a golf course in France where a body is found, yet presumably no golf is ever played.

Narrated by Captain Hastings, the story centres on the murder of Paul Renauld, a French-Canadian businessman who has been stabbed in the back. His wife had been tied up by two masked men who broke into their home. Poirot is called to the scene to investigate alongside his rival, the local detective Monsieur Giraud.

Who had motive and opportunity to commit such a crime? Could it have been Renauld's son Jack who was about to depart for South America? Was it Madame Daubreuil, a neighbour who may or may not have been blackmailing the Renaulds? Was it the mysterious woman the dimwitted Hastings let in to the murder scene? Or does the case have links to events more than twenty years ago?

To say I found this novel disappointing is an understatement. I could not get in to the rhythm of this book. There were so many red herrings, possible suspects, and theories of the case that it was hard to keep track. Hastings was incredibly annoying with his simplistic commentary and stupid antics. Ultimately I was bored and did not care whodunnit or howdunnit. I think Christie greatly overcomplicated and embellished the plotting of what is essentially a Midsomer Murder. 

While I will not give up on reading more Hercule Poirot, I will wait some time before moving on to The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926). But for now, it is back to Queen Victoria!