Sunday, January 9, 2011

Murder on the Links (Review)

It seems hard to believe that Murder on the Links is only the second Hercule Poirot novel--and the one where Hastings meets his soon-to-be wife and disappears to the Argentine for a vast number of books. After leaving the books alone for a while and watching the lovely adaptions starring David Suchet, it has made me think that Hastings was always there--for every one of Poirot's cases. Alas, it was not so. But, on to the review...

In Murder on the Links, Poirot receives an urgent message from famed millionaire, Monsieur Renaud. He fears for his life and wants Poirot to come to his assistance. Poirot and Hastings head to France as quickly as possible, but find they have arrived too late. M. Renaud has been found murdered...lying in a shallow grave on a golf course he has sponsored. The situation is most mysterious. Madame Renaud has also been found--bound and gagged and telling a story of mysterious South Americans who tied her up and forced her husband from the house, muttering threats that he will reveal his "secret" or they will kill him. There are other mysteries as well...the dark-haired woman who visited Renaud at night, the strange tramp who quarreled with Renaud, Renaud's son who was supposedly on his way to South America at the time of the tragedy (but had really returned to the area on the fateful night). Who can get to the bottom of all this? Why, Hercule Poirot, of course! Using his little grey cells.

This is a delightful period mystery. Lots of red herrings. All the clues right there before the reader. Twists and double-twists and even, can it be, a third twist right at the end. Added to the fun we also have Poirot and his psychology and "little grey cells" up against the scientific, modern detective Giraud. Giraud actually reminds me of Sherlock Holmes--crawling about on the ground looking for clues and putting great store in cigarette ends and unused matches. I think perhaps our detective author was having a bit of gentle fun at Holmes' expense. I also detect either a nod or a poke to/at her friend Dorothy L Sayers. Links begins thus:

"I believe that a well-known anecdote exists to the effect that a young writer, determined to make the commencement of his story forcible and original enough to catch and rivet the attention of the most blase of editors, penned the following sentence, 'Hell, said the Duchess.'"

Remind anyone of Lord Peter Wimsey at the beginning of Whose Body? The things one notices on a re-read. I enjoyed reading this particular edition--Another of my first edition, pocket-size books. Four stars out of five.


neer said...

Murder on the Links is one of my faves too though I didn't enjoy the way Holmes was ridiculed. And I absolutely loved the spirited girl who became Hastings' wife.

Ryan said...

This was not one of my favorites for some reason though I really did enjoy Hastings in this one.