Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Hollow by Agatha Christie (1946)

Published in the USA as Murder After Hours.

Major characters:
  • John Christow, a doctor
  • Gerda Christow, his wife
  • Sir Henry Angkatell, master of The Hollow
  • Lady Lucy Angkatell
  • David Angkatell, a student
  • Edward Angkatell, master of Ainswick
  • Midge Hardcastle, clerk in a dress shop
  • Henrietta Savernake, a sculptor/artist
  • Doris Sanders, model for Henrietta, partially(?) blind
  • Veronica Cray, actress, John Christow's long-ago fiancée
  • Hercule Poirot

Locale: The Hollow, home of the Angkatells

Synopsis: John Christow is a tired doctor, with too many women in his life - a love quadrangle: He is married to the simple, plain Gerda; having an affair with sexy artist Henrietta Savernake; but cannot get his old flame Veronica Cray out of his mind.

The Christows are invited to a weekend at The Hollow, home of Sir Henry and Lady Lucy Angkatell. Henrietta Savernake is one of the guests, and Veronica Cray and Hercule Poirot are staying at nearby cottages. One of the activities is target shooting. Hercule Poirot is also invited, and arrives just as John Christow is found dead by the swimming pool, with Gerda standing over him with a gun in hand.

Poirot finds a conspiracy of silence - the Angkatells all know more than they are saying.

Review: The characters are quite fascinating: Sir Henry Angkatell - quiet and a bit vacant - and his wife Lucy - manic and scattered. The Christows are the opposite - John, overworked and frantic; and his wife Gerda, simple and worrying. Toss in an ingenue - sculptress (is that a word?) Henrietta (having an intense affair with John) and Veronica (John's former fiancée), and what would be a fun activity for all? Target shooting, of course! Pass out the guns and let's have at it.

The plot revolves around an apparently staged murder scene into which Poirot walks arrives - with Gerda holding the "smoking gun" yet for a (reason withheld here) she cannot be the murderer. What is the truth? It takes several visits of the various persons to Poirot's cottage before he can tease out the truth. A very enjoyable read with an unexpected ending.

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