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The Big Four by Agatha Christie
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The Big Four (1927)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hercule Poirot Mystery (5)

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2,571573,618 (3.35)96
Framed in the doorway of Poirot's bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man's gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell. Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life - and that of his twin brother - to uncover the truth about 'Number Four'.… (more)
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Legacy LibrariesAyn Rand, Carl Sandburg
  1. 01
    Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: Some 30 years may separate them, but both feature the same slightly inane global conspiracy theory plot.
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» See also 96 mentions

English (54)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Really more of a spy novel than a mystery, though there were some smaller murder mysteries in there (another reviewer says these started out as independent short stories that were stiched together with connections to the Big 4 bolted on--I don't know if that's true, but it certainly could be). I enjoyed it anyway, but the end in particular really wanted James Bond, not Poirot. ( )
  haloedrain | Aug 3, 2019 |
Unfortunately, some of the Christies haven't aged very well, and this is one of them. The racism is period-typical and needs to be put in historical context, of course, but it's so heavy that I cringed through most of "The Big Four". Add to that that I simply didn't find the mystery very enjoyable--I couldn't buy into the premise, and it didn't help that there were so many fake-outs--and altogether, this is my least favorite of her works to date. If you're only interested in dabbling in Agatha Christie, give this one a pass. ( )
  Jeslieness | Jul 17, 2019 |
Quite different from the TV version with David Suchet. I made it a point not to look at information about the differences prior to reading the book. I really enjoyed it. Poor Hastings gets put through the ringer. ( )
  nx74defiant | Jan 27, 2019 |
The Big Four by Agatha Christie was first published in 1927 and features Hercule Poirot with assistance from his friend Hastings and Inspector Japp. Instead of being a work of detective fiction, this story is much more about espionage and international intrigue.

Poirot and Hasting become involved in tracking down a crime consortium that calls itself The Big Four and appears to be focused on “world domination”. Headed by four international criminals, Poirot must first uncover the identities of each of the four. As the hunt commences, the book becomes more of a sensational adventure piece with Poirot as the action hero and Hastings as his trusty sidekick. The Big Four was written during a difficult period in Ms. Christie’s life, and began as a series of stories that were then mashed together as one. She herself has called it “that rotten book”.

The Big Four really has none of the qualities that I look for in a Poirot book. Instead of sitting back, examining the evidence and putting his “little grey cells” to work, in this book he is donning disguises, faking his death and detonating smoke bombs, entirely too much action for the little detective. Luckily this book with it’s silly plot was a quick read and now can be shoved to the back of my mind and forgotten about. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 6, 2018 |
In which Poirot and Hastings set off on a terrifying adventure to track down four master criminals with plans of world domination (no, literally.)

Well, it’s not very good, but it’s great fun… If the plot summary above didn’t inform you, it’s not a Poirot novel by any stretch of the imagination; instead, it’s one of the last vestiges of Christie’s 1920s thrillers. The plot is big and bold, like an early Hitchcock film but less well-executed, with spies and secrets, underground lairs, night-time executions, and the Christie equivalent of the informant who is shot with a blow-pipe just as they’re about to reveal the big secret.

Reportedly put together by Christie in the aftermath of her divorce, needing a quick buck, "The Big Four" does, however, genuinely make us concerned for the well-being of Poirot, Hastings (in one of his last appearances) and his wife (waiting for him in South America, to which he was exiled by Christie before even one decade of short stories and novels). It’s certainly a spirited read, bringing back one of the most interesting recurring characters from Christie’s 1920s output, but it just feels so out of place. Poirot is James Bond, and his villains respond accordingly. I would never suggest this novel to a Christie newcomer, but it’s good fun as long as you don’t try and take it seriously.

Incidentally, this is one of the bigger question-marks should a future (final) season be commissioned of the David Suchet Poirot series. As an early novel, and one so action-focussed, it will prove a bit of a challenge, I daresay.

Poirot ranking: 36th out of 38. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraser, Hughsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laine, Anna-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have met people who enjoy a channel crossing; men who can sit calmly in their deck-chairs and, on arrival, wait until the boat is moored, then gather their belongings together without fuss and disembark.
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Alone, each was formidable. Together, they were virtually invincible. The Big Four -

a brilliant Chinese man,
an American Millionaire,
a French woman scientists and
an elusive maser of disguise -
a criminal conspiracy with diabolical designs.

Even the indomitable Hercule Poirot is appalled as he follows a trail of murders in what could very well prove to be his final case.
    ------------------------------

"No, no; rearrange your ideas, mon ami," Poirot said. "Exercise your little gray cells. You are Mayerling. You hear something, perhaps - and you know well enough that your doom is sealed. You have just time to leave a sign.
Four o'clock, Hastings. Number Four, the destroyer ....
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Average: (3.35)
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