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Appointment with Death (1938)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hercule Poirot (17)

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3,819803,051 (3.64)129

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English (72)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
‘Tell me, d’you ever find your own special job has a way of following you round?’
‘Well—to put it plainly—do you come to places expecting a holiday from crime—and find instead bodies cropping up?’
‘It has happened, yes; more than once.’

Christie, Agatha. Appointment With Death: Hercule Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot series Book 19) (p. 112). William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

‘This is M. Hercule Poirot. Staying with me. Been talking to him about this business down at Petra.’ ‘Ah, yes?’ Gerard’s quick eyes looked Poirot up and down. ‘You are interested?’
Hercule Poirot threw up his hands. ‘Alas! one is always incurably interested in one’s own subject.’

Christie, Agatha. Appointment With Death: Hercule Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot series Book 19) (p. 116). William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

When an elderly tyrant dies while abroad, Hercule Poirot finds himself investigating the possibility of one of the members of her family having killed her. The nineteenth Hercule Poirot has two parts, with the first relating the travel undertaken by the Boynton family and the second unravelling the details of the crime.

I didn't really enjoy this one as much as some of the other ones - it was somewhat slow and a bit too focused on the psychological elements of the family's dynamics. It was an interesting insight into the views on mental health back in the day but not really my favourite thing to read.

The other characters were kind of bland and although I felt for the family for living under Mrs Boynton's thumb, I didn't really want to read about them. I didn't guess the killer either - but I pretty much suspected everyone except the person it was. Including Miss Pierce the lady who was accompanying Lady Westholme. I thought for sure that her wishy washy memory was her lying - and didn't remotely guess that it was actually being easily influenced by a strong personality who needed an alibi.

An okay read, 3 stars. ( )
  funstm | Aug 11, 2023 |
I read this book as a teenager and it made a big impression on me since I could still remember the general plot outline decades later and I always wanted to revisit it. I think it was the psychological set-up that I found so fascinating because the writing is somewhat mediocre and it was fairly easy to spot the murderer this time round (the who and why; for the how Hercule Poirot exercises his little grey cells and comes up with an ingenuous solution). Not one of Agatha Christie's best, but reading it provided a few hours' enjoyment, and her books always provide a good mental workout. ( )
  passion4reading | May 8, 2023 |
Reading Agatha Christie is like eating comfort food for me. I discovered her after devouring Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes mysteries and was captivated by Ms. Marple. But Poirot has beensomething of an acquired taste and one that I have lately acquired. This particular book is a wonderfully conceived psychological study of a tyrannical mother who controls the purse strings and the children she rules with an iron will. The book begins withtwo of her children plotting to kill her and 20 or so pages into it you understand why. Christie builds sympathy for the children and spouses until one becomes quite convinced that if one of them doesn't kill her, they should. Great characters, a wonderful plot, a couple of major plot twists, and a quirky little man with a high opinion of himself whose little gray cells have to work overtime to solve this one. ( )
  Al-G | Apr 12, 2023 |
Author Christie creates some delightful characters, in Hercule Poirot and Dr Gerard. She creates despicable character in Mrs boynton, but I was hoping for more examples in the story of her nastiness.
Here's Dr Gerard's impression of her, upon seeing her for the first time:
".. and the center of the group -- 'heavens!' thought Dr gerard, with a Frenchman's candid repulsion. 'What a horror of a woman!' old, swollen, bloated, sitting there immovable in the midst of them -- a distorted old Buddha -- a gross spider in the center of a web!
to Sarah he said: 'la maman, she is not beautiful, eh?' and he shrugged his shoulders."
Dr Gerard and Sarah are talking about the strange Dynamics in the Boynton family, in Jerusalem:
"... 'But now -- I'm not sure. I feel -- oh, I feel that if I could sweep all this away' -- she made a violent gesture -- 'all the buildings and the sects and the fierce squabbling churches -- that -- that I might see Christ's quiet figure riding into Jerusalem on a donkey -- and believe in Him.'
Dr Gerard said gravely: 'I believe at least in one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith -- contentment with a lowly place. I am a doctor and I know that ambition -- the desire to succeed -- to have power -- leads to most ills of the human soul. If the desire is realized it leads to arrogance, violence and final satiety -- and if it is denied -- ah! If it is denied -- let all the asylums for the insane rise up and give their testimony -- they are filled with human beings who were unable to face being mediocre, insignificant, ineffective and who therefore created for themselves ways of escape from reality so as to be shut off from the life itself forever.' "

Mr cope, a friend of the Boynton family, who sees only the good things in life, and cannot believe that Mrs Boynton is evil, is recounting to Dr Gerard an incident that happened in the family:
"Mr cope paused, glanced delicately at Sarah and lowered his voice. 'she [a servant] was going to have a child. The old lady, it seemed, discovered this, but was apparently quite kind to the girl. Then a few weeks before the child was born she turned her out of the house.'
Dr Gerard's eyebrows went up.
'Ah,' he said reflectively.
'My informant seemed very positive of her facts. I don't know whether you agree with me, but that seems to me a very cruel and heartless thing to do. I cannot understand --'
Dr Gerard interrupted him.
'You should try to. That incident, I have no doubt, gave Mrs Boynton a good deal of quiet enjoyment.'
Mr cope turned a shocked face on him.
'No, sir,' he said with emphasis. 'That I cannot believe. Such an idea is quite inconceivable.'
Softly Dr Gerard quoted:
'so I returned and did consider all the oppressions done beneath the sun. and there was weeping and wailing from those that were oppressed and had no comfort; for with their oppressors there was power, so that no one came to comfort them. Then I did praise the dead which are already dead, yea, more than the living which linger still in life; yea, he that is not is better than dead or living; for he does not know of the evil that is wrought forever on Earth...'
he broke off and said:
'my dear sir, I have made a life study of the strange things that go on in the human mind. It is no good turning one's face only to the fairer side of life. Below the decencies and conventions of everyday life, there lies a vast reservoir of strange things. There is such a thing, for instance, as delight in cruelty for its own sake. But when you have found that, there is something deeper still. The desire, profound and pitiful, to be appreciated. If that is thwarted, if through an unpleasing personality a human being is unable to get the response it needs, it turns to other methods -- it must be felt -- it must count -- and so to innumerable strange perversions. The habit of cruelty, like any other habit, can be cultivated, can take hold of one -- ' "
Yes, I really love this Dr Gerard the famous psychiatrist.

I love the way this author writes:
"Sarah King [a newly-minted MD] looked long and searchingly at Hercule Poirot. She noted the egg-shaped head, the gigantic mustaches, the dandified appearance and the suspicious blackness of his hair. A look of doubt crept in her eyes.
'Well, mademoiselle, are you satisfied?'
Sarah flushed as she met the amused ironical glance of his eyes.
'I beg your pardon,' she said awkwardly.
'Du tout! To use an expression I have recently learnt, you give me the once-over, is it not so?'
Sarah smiled a little. 'Well, at any rate, you can do the same to me,' she said.
'Assuredly. I have not neglected to do so.'
She glanced at him sharply. Something in his tone. But Poirot was twirling his mustaches complacently, and Sarah thought (for the second time), 'the man's a mountebank!' "
( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
One of her best. Don't judge it by the TV version which bears almost no relation to the original and contains a great deal of silliness that would've made Agatha very angry indeed. The book has a great deal to say about the nature of evil, and the need for courage in the face of it. Some great little riffs that could be called post modern too - reference to DL Sayers "Unnatural death" (1927) (p141 "...I read in a book - an English Detective story...") and Colonel Carbury's request that Poirot make a timetable and a list ("I suppose you couldn't do the things the detective does in books?" p116). Great fun. Just leave out white slaving nuns and the head of John the Baptist - AC was much cleverer than that! ( )
  Figgles | Oct 16, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
Mrs. Boynton es una mujer entrada en años que más que gobernar, esclaviza a sus hijastros ya mayores. Pero ella es la dueña del dinero y, hasta su muerte, todos deberán girar a su alrededor. En el transcurso de un viaje a las ruinas de Petra, los Boynton coinciden con otros viajeros entre los que está Poirot. Cuando el grupo vuelve de la excursión, a la que la anciana no ha acudido, la encuentran muerta a la puerta de su tienda. Todos tienen motivos para desear su muerte, todos son sospechosos.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ahto, InkeriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mallorquí Figuerola, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Fontana (45)
SaPo (121)

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To Richard and Myra Mallock to remind them of their journey to Petra
First words
"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"
Gerard continued: "We see it all round us to-day - in political creeds, in the conduct of nations. A reaction from humanitarianism - from pity - from brotherly good-will. The creeds sound well sometimes - a wise régime - a beneficent government - but imposed by FORCE - resting on a basis of cruelty and fear. They are opening the door, these apostles of violence, they are letting up the old savagery, the old delight in cruelty FOR ITS OWN SAKE! Oh, it is difficult - Man is an animal very delicately balanced. He has one prime necessity - to survive. To advance too quickly is as fatal as to lag behind. He must survive! He must, perhaps, retain some of the old savagery, but he must not - no definitely he must not - DEIFY it!" There was a pause. Then Sarah said: "You think old Mrs. Boynton is a kind of Sadist?" (The Albatross edition 1939, chapter VI, p. 47)
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Haiku summary
Hercule Poirot asks
questions in the sudden death
of Mrs Boynton.
Mrs Boynton's death
sets her family free. Did
one of them kill her?

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