Thursday, 4 July 2013

FIVE LITTLE PIGS (also known as MURDER IN RETROSPECT) – Agatha Christie, 1943

This is, I think, my favourite of all Agatha Christie’s novels. It is not as famous as Evil Under the Sun or Murder on the Orient Express, but it is a beautifully constructed story, with the crime told in flashbacks.
Five people were present when Amyas Crale was murdered; his wife was executed for the crime. Years later, their daughter employs Poirot to discover the truth.

By interviewing the Five Little Pigs, whose actions fit with the lines of the child’s rhyme, the great detective is finally able to solve the mystery and reassure Carla Lemarchant that her mother was not only innocent, but also self-sacrificing in the extreme.  The beauty of this is, though, that Caroline Crale took the ultimate punishment as recompense for another crime she committed years before and for which she feels eternal remorse. It is a tale of redemption wrapped up in a mystery and I am bewildered as to why it is not better known. But, then again, maybe that is part of its charm.

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