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Hickory Dickory Dock: A Hercule Poirot Novel (edition 2000)

by Agatha Christie

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1,728144,095 (3.54)29
Member:klpm
Title:Hickory Dickory Dock: A Hercule Poirot Novel
Authors:Agatha Christie
Info:Berkley (2000), Edition: 17th THUS, Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, mystery, London, detective, Poirot, boarding house

Work details

Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie

  1. 30
    Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: Just as Hickory Dickory Dock is set at a hostel for students, Cat among the Pigeons is set at a girls' school. Those who have enjoyed the ups and downs in the lives of the students living at the hostel in Hickory Dickory Dock, will also enjoy the atmosphere of carefree school days in Cat among the Pigeons.… (more)
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English (10)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Aragonese Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Always fun reading anything by Agatha Christie, even of it's okay it's never a waste of time, she always know how 2 write a mystery..
Needed a well written, easy read story and got myself one, thx Christie 4 that, and more.. ( )
  Samar.Abd-Allah | Feb 27, 2014 |
Hardly plausible and poorly plotted and somehow intriguing. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
This novel begins with a lovely description of Hercule Poirot's very efficient secretary Miss Lemon.

She is very much disturbed with a problem her sister Mrs Hubbard, who runs a student hostel in London, is facing.

Hercule Poirot frowned. ‘Miss Lemon,’ he said.
‘Yes, M. Poirot?’
‘There are three mistakes in this letter.’

His voice held incredulity. For Miss Lemon, that hideous and efficient woman, never made mistakes. She was never ill, never tired, never upset, never inaccurate.
For all practical purposes, that is to say, she was not a woman at all. She was a machine – the perfect secretary. She knew everything, she coped with everything. She ran Hercule Poirot’s life for him, so that it, too, functioned like a machine.

Order and method had been Hercule Poirot’s watchwords from many years ago. With George, his perfect manservant, and Miss Lemon, his perfect secretary, order and method ruled supreme in his life.
Now that crumpets were baked square as well as round, he had nothing about which to complain.
It is always interesting with these "nursey rhyme" novels to work out what is the connection between the title and the nursery rhyme. In this case, the student hostel is in Hickory Road but that is not the only connection:

‘Hickory, dickory, dock,’ said Nigel, ‘the mouse ran up the clock. The police said “Boo”, I wonder who, will eventually stand in the Dock?’
There are two murders in the time frame of this novel and eventually a revelation about an earlier murder committed by the same person. The author cleverly moves the finger of suspicion from one person to another over the course of Poirot's investigation. The sad thing is that the two more recent murders could have been prevented if the opportunity had been taken earlier to report the murderer to the police.

At the end Miss Lemon is returned to her usual efficient self by Hercule Poirot and the police discovering the identity of the murderer.

I think that Agatha Christie was struggling with this story to create and maintain the nursery rhyme connection, and really didn't do it all that successfully.

I read this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. and this is my 47th novel read mainly in order of publication.

My rating: 4.2

I did some research into the origins of the nursery rhyme. Here is the most interesting one:

Hickory Dickory Dock, is the Anglicisation of 8,9,10 in Cumbric ( North West England- the lake district) and devolved from the ancient Gaelic.. It was a language used by shepherds for their daily sheep count.
I don't think that adds much in this case though ( )
  smik | Dec 5, 2012 |
NOTE: This review contains spoilers.

****

Even great detectives have a blind spot. In Poirot's case, it is his highly efficient secretary, Miss Lemon. She runs his life so well that he cannot fathom it when one of her typed letters contains not one, but three mistakes. And then to find out that she made those mistakes because she was worried about her sister -- wait, what, she has a family?? But Poirot knows an interesting case when he sees one: Miss Lemon's sister runs a hostel that caters to students, and there has been a rash of thefts and petty property destruction. Eventually it escalates to murder. But what is the reasoning behind it? Poirot is on the case.

This was a fairly clever solution, somewhat in the vein of The Mysterious Affair at Styles in that obviousness is used to divert suspicion. And I always like stories involving Miss Lemon. The students were entertaining in their own way but the "non-English" students probably suffered from a bit of stereotyping, especially in the way their dialect was rendered.

One thing I did object to was multiple instances of "So and so has important information to divulge but decides to wait for a while before divulging it, thus ensuring that So and so will be murdered to preserve their silence." Once per book is enough, thank you. The second time it happened I actually almost groaned aloud. "Oh no, not again."

Overall though this is a decent book to cover an afternoon, or for when you don't want something too demanding. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jul 31, 2012 |
Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in 1955. In the US it was published under the title Hickory Dickory Death by Dodd, Mead and Company the same year.

The title of the story, like that of many other Christie books, comes from a nursery rhyme.

A sudden outbreak of petty thefts at a student hostel leaves everyone uneasy. A young girl comes forward and confesses to the crimes. But soon she turns up dead. Was is just a case of ‘kleptomania’ and a guilty conscious or is there something more sinister going on behind the screen? Poirot investigates.

This is a very easy to read book. I practically flew through it. Christie’s writing is delightful to say the least.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the hostel and the interaction between the characters.

This book has one of the most ethnically diverse cast of characters I’ve ever come across in a Christie book. It gives a pleasant flavour to it. The character of Mr. Akibombo is my favourite. Yes, he is a racial stereotype but I like him. His naiveté, his subtle intelligence and his friendship with Sally Finch, it’s all really sweet.

All of the female characters are well etched. I particularly liked Elizabeth Johnston, Valerie Hobhouse and Sally Finch, three very different but enjoyable characters.

The characters of Mrs. Nicoletis, Mrs. Hubbard, Celia Austin, Geronimo and Maria are all very formulaic and not properly fleshed out.

I love it when I find references of other Christie stories in my current Christie read. Hickory Dickory Dock is quite full of them. One of the students in the hostel makes a reference to the case in Mrs McGinty's Dead, Poirot recalls the case of The Nemean Lion from the collection The Labours of Hercules, just to name a few.

This is the first novel featuring Poirot secretary Miss Lemon. She had earlier appeared in short stories only. Here we get to know a bit more about Miss Lemon and her family. It is also revealed that her first name is Felicity, something which shocks Poirot!

The motive behind the crimes is a little convoluted. The method of smuggling goods described in the book is intricate to say the least. It leaves too many things to chance. I highly doubt if any criminal will adopt such a complicated method.

Some of the final twists are a little far fetched. But some of them are rather unusual for Christie mysteries and I liked them.

With some interesting characters and a general sprinkling of murder and mayhem Hickory Dickory Dock is an entertaining read. It remains one of my trusty comfort reads. Recommended. ( )
6 vote Porua | Nov 16, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennanen, EilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425175464, Mass Market Paperback)

Poirot investigates a culprit who has curiously swiped a stethoscope, a tube of lipstick, and a cookbook.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Detective Hercule Poirot decides that a purported suicide was really a murder, but before he can act more murders are committed.

(summary from another edition)

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