Evil Under the Sun (Published 1941)- This is one of the many Agatha Christie mysteries that I tend to forget about until I'm in the middle of reading them and realize just how truly amazing they are. We start with Poirot completely out of his element - on a typical British beach vacation. Poirot at the seashore with his shiny shoes is just a mental image that never fails to make me laugh. The hotel is populated with the typical tourists. A over talkative American woman and her agreeable husband, the old Major who spends most of his time trying to tell people about his time in India, a gruff games mistress with a heart of gold, and a newlywed couple whose relationship is just starting to show cracks. Throw into this the beautiful trouble making actress Arlena Stuart and the quiet beach holiday is turned on it's side. For Arlena soon lies dead and the number of people with motives is high but no one seems to have had the means. The mystery is so beautifully plotted that even on a reread I still found myself holding my breath a little on the reveal. The book itself was published in 1940 which means it was written either at the beginning of the year or in the late 30s. I have to wonder if Agatha was trying to distract herself and her reading audience from what was going on around them with such a splendidly typical beach holiday and a thoroughly unlikable corpse. This is one I'd recommend if you're new to Agatha Christie but regardless if you're new to her or she's an old favorite this is a great mystery and an entertaining read. Rating - Loved it!
Murder in Retrospect or Five Little Pigs (Published 1942) - Christie has several books that were looking into "solved" cases and this was one of the first. When Carla Crale learns that her mother was tried and convicted for the murder of Carla's father she must know the truth. Poirot loves a challenge and looking into a case that was closed 16 years ago is definitely a challenge for his little grey cells. The structure is fairly simple. Only 4 people witnessed what happened that day in the past and somewhere in there is the key to what happened. Poirot interviews all 4 and has them each write a detailed account of what happened. There are discrepancies as emotion and time shade the events but everything that Poirot (and the reader) need to solve the case is right there. This is another one of my forgotten favorites that is an unexpected delight every time I reread the mystery. And I must admit that every time I reread this one I still have the same light bulb moment when I realize the significance of one particular piece of evidence. While this isn't the flashiest mystery Christie wrote I do believe it's one of the most satisfying. Rating - Loved it!