Last year I bought a few Agatha Christie mysteries on sale for my kindle, mainly to serve as travel reading books. I love Agatha Christie, despite her outdated politics and attitudes and her slow pacing (relative to more modern authors, particularly mystery writers). She has the power to evoke a scene and a character with very few words, to weave fantastically improbable circumstances into believable narratives, and she is very readable and entertaining.
There are authors whose work I pick up whenever I really want to get my mind off things, and Christie is forefront among them.
“The Murder on the Links” is a Hercule Poirot novel, his second appearance after “The Mysterious Affair in Styles”, and the Belgian detective is here at his best. He is pompous, he is fastidiously neat, he is arrogant and manipulative, and yet he is a warm and kind person, much like his counterpart Marple.
This is not a golf book, despite the name. The Links here are almost an afterthought, and the plot largely doesn’t take place in them. A wealth man tries to hire Poirot to help him deal with a secret in his past, and yet as Poirot and Captain Hastings arrive to the man’s French coastal villa, he has been found murdered and the local police are investigating. There are several generational battles going on here, and Christie cleverly intertwines them: the young, coarse and cocky French detective Giraud of the Sûreté against the aging, polite and equally cocky Poirot; the older actors Paul and Eloise Renauld, Madame Daubreuil, Captain Hastings, against the younger ones, Jack and Marthe, the mysterious “Cinderella” and her equally mysterious sister. The plot revolves a lot around chance, as many of the genre do, but it revolves more around the pairing and contrasting of these characters, of the past to the present.
It’s a fun and light read, entertaining without being too problematic to modern readers. One of the Christie mysteries that survived the test of time pretty much unscathed.