by Agatha Christie
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The very first collection of superb short stories featuring Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings...
First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond! then came the 'suicide' that was murder! the mystery of the absurdly chaep flat! a suspicious death in a locked gun-room! a million dollar bond robbery! the curse of a pharoah's tomb! a jewel robbery by the sea! the abduction of a Prime Minister! the disappearance of a banker! a phone call from a dying man! and, finally, the mystery of the missing willl. What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!
Review:This is a wonderful short story collection! Every story features a mystery that is well set-up, difficult to solve, and an utter surprise when Poirot explains it all in the end. It's still so astonishing to me how inventive Agatha Christie can be, and how well she can craft a solid mystery in only a few pages. In this book there is more to learn of Poirot and his quirks, as well as a finer shading of Hastings' character as you see how low-key petty he can be in the face of Poirot's delightful arrogance. I feel bad for Hastings sometimes, but I also find it amusing how he can almost want to see Poirot fail just because Poirot is so self-assured.
There are many stand out stories in this book, but I think my favorite is The Kidnapped Prime Minister. The misdirection, and the stakes of the story gives it a lot of interest. And there is something satisfying in seeing Poirot poised for failure, but triumphant in the end. I have to note the last story in the book - The Chocolate Box - which is a story that Poirot tells Hastings of a past case when he was still in Belgium, where he 'failed', and it's so interesting to have that side of him in this book. Obviously Poirot is still a marvel, but I like that this story humanized him a bit more.
I love this particular collection of Poirot short stories because it is early days for Poirot, and the later mysteries can get a bit sadder and more poignant. And because these are short stories, the mysteries come off as more of a romp and are thoroughly enjoyable for it.