Title: The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication date: 3 March, 2008
Length: 319 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.
But why is the dead man wearing his son’s overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse…
The Murder on the Links is Christie’s third novel and the second Hercule Poirot mystery. I had some vague memory of watching the film adaptation on telly a few years ago but funnily enough, the story was completely new to me and apart from the fact that it’s set somewhere in France and there’s a golf course involved, I didn’t remember a thing. And how grateful I am for that! Had I remembered anything else, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did. And in spite of the fact that I don’t think any of her books can top And Then There Were None, it was definitely one of the best mysteries she’s ever written.
I don’t know if you remember but I mentioned in my review of The Mysterious Affair at Styles (the very first Poirot novel) that I found Hastings’s narrative a bit monotonous and dry and it took me a little while before I got into it and got used to his style. Well, this was definitely not the case here. I was drawn into the story from the very first page and even though I’m a relatively slow reader, I devoured half of the story in one sitting. As opposed to book #1, The Murder on the Links is more fast-paced and less concerned with family affairs, family history than the first book was, which is something I’m quite happy about. (Three chapters and 30 pages in we already have our first victim and Poirot is already working on the case so if this is not fast paced then I don’t know what is. :)) Hastings is funny, incredibly naive and as always, hasn’t a clue about what’s going on, just like us readers. His friendship with Poirot is both charming and entertaining, and it’s one of the things that make this book as good as it is.
In addition to the usual investigation process and Poirot’s tales about his little grey cells, The Murder on the Links is spiced up with a great deal of humour as well. There’s a Parisian detective called Giraud involved in the investigation who soon becomes Poirot’s rival as they’re trying to solve the mystery separately. Their methods are entirely different and the fact that they’re trying to outdo each other had me in stitches many times throughout the story.
Once again, the Queen of Crime manages to give us readers all the necessary details we need for solving the case and still, when you think you’ve seen it all, she twists the whole thing around in the very last minute and you find yourself staring open-mouthed, completely speechless and wondering how the heck all this happened. Brilliant ending, gripping plot and engaging narrative – it really is a fantastic read. Do read it if you can, it’s worth it!
“He was very tall, perhaps about thirty years of age, with auburn hair and moustache, and a military carriage. There was a trace of arrogance in his manner which showed that he was fully alive to his own importance. Bex introduced us, presenting Poirot as a colleague. A flicker of interest came into the detective’s eye.
‘I know you by name, Monsieur Poirot,’ he said. ‘You cut quite a figure in the old days, didn’t you? But methods are very different now.’
‘Crimes, though, are very much the same,’ remarked Poirot gently.“