In keeping with this recent re-reading trend of mine, I read Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party. (There’s another one on that list, you’ll see soon.)
Usually, I prefer reading Miss Marple mysteries to Hercule Poirot simply because of the settings of these stories and that quality of unseen evil that pervades them all without getting hampered by human beings too much. It’s like the story exists independent of any one person and yet the menace that overhangs it is a cumulative effect of all the characters in it. I think the reason this book stuck out in my memory is the same.
She’s simply drowned as she bobs for apples in a traditional Hallowe’en game for children. And yet, why did Joyce Reynolds die? Was it because she’d claimed at that very same party that she’d once witnessed a murder? But then Joyce was not a popular kid by all accounts, known to be a liar and a loudmouth; one who was never taken seriously. Wasn’t she?
As it happens, one of the attendees of this party is none other than Ms Ariadne Oliver whom you Agatha Christie fans will know as that prolific writer of mysteries. It is at Ms Oliver’s suggestion that Hercule Poirot steps and begins his dogged efforts at detection. Why did Joyce Reynolds die? What did she know or somebody thought she knew? And what does the dignified but cold widow, Rowena Drake have to do with this … aside from the fact that the murder was committed at her house. And that she seems singularly unmoved by it.
When I read the book the second time, I kept looking for the reason I remembered this book as a slightly sinister story. And then towards the end, as Poirot visits the sunken garden and meets little Miranda Butler, I found it. It’s in that sunken garden of unseen creatures from another world, created in somebody’s memory where he meets Miranda first, and it’s unsurprising that he initially mistakes her for one of the fey creatures of the garden. With her quick intelligence and pale existence it’s easy to forget Miranda is there, but not as easy to forget her. And yet, there’s something about her friendship with beautiful Michael Garfield, the architect of the garden that strikes Poirot as just…wrong.
As one of the best Agatha Christies I’ve read, this one too gets a 5! If you’re a Christie fan here’s where you can pick it up – Hallowe’en Party: A Hercule Poirot Mystery. Happy reading!