Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Big Four

The Big Four (1927) by Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser

I reread my own paper copy of this novel about two years ago (review at title link). At that time I also viewed the David Suchet version of the story. I won't rehash the plot here or reference my previous review--other than to say: Of these three recent experiences of Christie's excursion into the evil masterminds/thriller genre, I much prefer this audio version with Hugh Fraser narrating. Fraser does a terrific job managing all the different voices and accents--from Poirot's French to Russian and Chinese tones. The one misstep comes when Poirot meets with the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister of France, Monsieur Desjardeux. Desjardeux is outraged when Poirot names the French member of the Big Four and Fraser's efforts to differentiate Desjardeux's voice from Poirot's results in the Prime Minister's tones venturing towards those of his Chinese characters. But that is only momentary and the performance overall is outstanding. And somehow the idea of a nefarious gang of super-criminals doesn't seem quite so fantastic when Captain Hastings himself is telling the tale. So--for the audio version, I'm bumping the rating back to the ★★ and 1/2 that I gave the story when my much younger self first read it (long, long before blogging).

First Lines: I have met people who enjoy a channel crossing; men who can sit calmly in their deck chairs and, on arrival, wait until the boat is moored, then gather their belongings together without fuss and disembark. Personally, I can never manage this. 

Last Line: “Marry and arrange myself,” he said again. “Who knows?”

Deaths = 11 (two poisoned; two stabbed; one electrocuted; one run over by car; one drowned; three blown up; one other [suicide])
Calendar of Crime: January (Original Pub Month)
PopSugar: Set in the 1920s
Pick Your Poison: Reading Cliches (By an author "everyone has read"--well, "everyone" in Golden Age mystery circles, anyway.)


Kate said...

Yes I can imagine Fraiser having his work cut out with the various accents in this book!

Carol said...

Not my favorite of the Poirot books, that's for sure.

Sean said...

This book usually is on the bottom of most Christie fans list! I think it is a lot different than her standard Poirot books, but I do like it. It has more of a episodic feel to it than a flowing novel, but I liked it all the same. (I must confess, the last time I read it was around the turn of the century (in fact, just before 9/11), so my comments are a bit vague as I don't have all the details committed to memory at the moment. I apologise for that)

Bev Hankins said...

Sean: I think it was much more exciting for my adventure-loving younger self. But I did enjoy Hugh Fraser's reading quite a lot.