By the time the next four Poirot's are released he has become an incredibly popular detective. The problem is that Agatha's publishing company is now expecting more from her and pressuring her more both for more books and for content. On Goodreads Black Coffee is actually counted as the 7th Poirot but I'm not counting it here as it was part of a series of Christie plays that were later turned into books by another author.
For my review of the first four Poirot books visit this post.
This most recent reading of The Big Four is the first time I've read it close to reading Passenger to Frankfurt so it was the first time I noticed how similar these books are though they were written 45 years apart. The main difference is that The Big Four is well plotted and menacing while Passenger to Frankfurt is to put it nicely - confusing. We find Poirot and Hastings reunited and up against an International group of powerful criminals. This is a little different from most of Christie's books because while they are hunting one criminal (the elusive #4) they are investigating a series of only barely related crimes. While this isn't one of my favorites it's a fun and very vintage-y feeling read. 3.5 Stars
Supposedly this one is a book that Agatha buckled under publisher pressure to change the ending. Reportedly she was always dissatisfied with it because of that. The timing may also have influenced her feelings towards it as this was the first book she wrote after her mother's death, her divorce and her mysterious and very public disappearance. Despite Agatha's feelings I actually like this mystery. The daughter of American millionaire who is travelling with incredibly valuable jewels is found murdered on the Blue Train with her face disfigured. It is proven almost immediately that despite the face disfigurement it is in fact the millionaire's daughter. To the rescue come the famous Poirot and heiress Katherine Grey. Grey is a fantastic character - she is intelligent, kind and with a fully developed sense of humor. The suspects are immediately very clear and Poirot is more of a passive investigator who periodically will steer the police a particular direction. It does take a bit of an unexpected turn in the last 30 pages which I suspect is the ending Agatha resented so much. It's an enjoyable read but the ending is not as tight as a usual Agatha book. 4 Stars
The retired (again) Poirot is enjoying a seaside holiday with his good friend Captain Hastings when a bee zips by his head. Except it isn't a bee it's a bullet and the bullet pierced the brim of the hat worn by the young and very pretty Nick Buckley. That's not her first narrow miss it's actually her fourth and Poirot and Hastings are quickly drawn into a web of tangled motives, secrets and lies. On my first reading of Agatha's books this was definitely one of my favorites. The characters are glamorous and there's always something happening but it doesn't really hold up to multiple readings. There's too much that balances of coincidence and Poirot is much more secretive than usual so it feels a bit too much like a trick played on the reader. This was written during a huge burst in productivity for Agatha (4 novels and 3 short story collections in 3 years). While it's very readable it's definitely not Agatha's best. 3 Stars
After the rather lackluster Peril at End House Agatha is back in full form with this one. Lord Edgware is found murdered and his wife, the famous actress Jane Wilkinson, not only was the last person to see him but also had asked Poirot to figure out how to get rid of her only a few days before. The catch is that she has an unbreakable alibi leaving Poirot, Hastings and Japp to ask how she could be in 2 places at once. Reading this one I'm not surprised we're heading towards some of Agatha's famous books - Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There were None to name a few. The plotting is incredibly well done. Reading this after you know the solution is like a treasure hunt looking for the clues that she so artfully wove into the story. This is one of those that really should be better known. 4 Stars