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The Murder On The Links (1984)

The Murder on the Links (1984)
3.76 of 5 Votes: 2
0425067947 (ISBN13: 9780425067949)
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The Murder On The Links (1984)
The Murder On The Links (1984)

About book: In this second Hercule Poirot story, Poirot is moaning that crime isn't what it used to be, criminals are no longer worthy of this investigative prowess. Luckily, that very same day a letter arrives requesting his help in France. Paul Renauld is in fear of his life and wishes to engage Poirot. It's not entirely clear how this short note somehow signifies a matter worthy of Poirot's grey cells when only five minutes before he'd moaning like an old woman, but then maybe I just don't have Poirot's ability to reason beyond the obvious simplicity of the note itself – or something like that.Poirot and Capt. Hastings head over to France to investigate, only to find they are just a day too late. The previous night his wife was tied up, while Renauld was threatened and then taken outside and murdered. Murdered and buried in a shallow grave on the neighbouring, unfinished, golf course. The French police are already on the scene and luckily the local magistrate is a fan of Poirot and encourages him to run his own investigation alongside the official one. Once the official detective arrives however, so does the fun. Monsieur Giraud is from Paris and is proud of his modern detection methods, he has no time for Poirot and dismisses his assistance. Poirot of course sees this as a challenge to his, obvious, superiority and proceeds to get competitive.As with any crime mystery of this nature, coincidence plays a biiig part. The note in the beginning, Hastings meeting Cinderella on the train, the Renaulds happening to move next door to the Daubreulls. And the biggest coincidence of them all, that the body of Renauld is found on a golf course while the book is called Murder on the Links – obviously it has to be a coincidence, because there doesn't seem to be any valid reason to have named the book deliberately for such a tenuous reason. The golf course in question plays no other part whatsoever in the story. Weird.The character of Poirot is developed very nicely since the first novel. His arrogance and vanity are exposed to us, but in a way that makes him seem much more charming than you suspect he would be in real life. The way he feeds clues to Hastings to try and lead him to the right conclusions is almost as you would expect somebody to patronise a favourite pet. Hastings however, comes off less well. He's portrayed as a walking adolescent, immediately falling in love with every young woman he sees – is it the girl on the train, is it the neighbour's daughter, is it the girl from the train, and so on. Hastings' only real moment of glory is when he defies Poirot to protect the girl he loves.I struggled with my edition – it was an ebook I downloaded from the Internet. Unlike ebooks editions I've read previously from places like Project Gutenberg this turned out to be an ebook that somebody had thrown together from a reasonably hasty OCR job. Frequently words were just missing, replaced with "[missing]" or "[garbled]", and chapters 13 and 14 ran into each other with a note that "[some text missing from end of chapter 13 and beginning of chapter 14]". Strangely, it didn't make as much of a difference to the book as I'd feared, I don't think I missed any major clues and I guess the brain just fills in the missing words, however if I was doing it again I'd want to read an ebook that had gone from some level of editing.

Hercule Poirot returns to once again solve a murder, this time of a wealthy Frenchman who seems to have foreseen his death. It’s not about Poirot being smarter than other detectives or about him noticing more details—it’s about his method, his organized way of approaching those details and fitting the theory to the facts rather than the other way around.Contrary to what the title might imply, there is no golf in this book. (Thank God.) Rather, the body turns up in an open grave on the golf course undergoing renovation. This is the first oddity in a series of oddities that the police overlook, much to their sorrow. But Hercule Poirot, no, he does not overlook such things! That and the lead pipe.Much like The Mysterious Affair at Styles, this novel has Captain Hastings as the narrator. Hastings is even more of a buffoon here: he falls in love with a girl he meets on the channel ferry. In what is a most magnificent coincidence, she turns up again near the crime scene, and happens to be embroiled in the mystery. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.Though Hastings’ characterization isn’t great here, the mystery itself is much more engaging. We’ve got two bodies, a neighbour who turns out to have a checkered past, unsanctioned love—all the good stuff. Christie even arranges for a tense climax where Poirot has a woman act as bait to reveal the murderer—but because she neglected to tell him that she changed rooms, she almost dies. Oops.And while the characterization might not be great, the way Christie portrays the friendship between Poirot and Hastings is excellent. When it briefly appears as if Hastings’ sudden lady love might have done it, he sets himself against Poirot. Christie plays it as all very comical and English: Hastings is the utmost gentleman to Poirot, and Poirot mocks him for it in that needling Belgian way of his. Of course, it turns out in the end that Hastings was being a big galoot and Papa Poirot had it right all along—not that he bothered to tell Hastings.Still, it’s a wonderful little diversion from the slavish loyalty one might expect in the detective/sidekick duo that now seems to pervade the mystery genre.As with The Mysterious Affair at Styles and the more recently read Death on the Nile, Poirot doesn’t just solve the mystery: he plays matchmaker and generally raises the happiness of all involved, aside from those who deserve justice. Indeed, I’m not sure if this is something Christie sets out to do as a way of balancing the scales—her way of showing that even after tragedy, there is hope.The Murder on the Links doesn’t stand out as one of Christie’s most salutary efforts, but it is by every measure competent and enjoyable. Hastings’ gentlemanly sexism and contrived romantic notions might be annoying, but if you read it with a sense of humour, you’ll have a grand afternoon ahead of you.
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The second Hercule Poirot novel. To explain its plot accurately would take half an hour and a whiteboard, but briefly: the Belgian detective and his aide Hastings are summoned to the house of M. Renauld, a millionaire who fears for his life. They arrive too late, finding him already dead, half-buried in an unfinished golf bunker, supposedly at the hands of bearded foreign thugs, and possibly at the hands of a jilted lover. But Poirot soon unearths not one, but two of the principals are living under assumed names and have criminal pasts, while the jilted lover may not have belonged to M. Renauld at all, and then another corpse pops up.I enjoyed this book quite a bit, as I did its predecessor; Christie puts so much charm and wit into her tortuous, labyrinthine plots filled with deception and red herrings that the joy they bring makes one forgot the craziness of the coincidences and cover-ups. I did roll my eyes at the depictions of the police other than Poirot; I don’t mind Hastings being a besotted fool (and he certainly is, from first page to last), but when the police dismiss what is obviously evidence such as discarded clothes or the woman who visited the crime scene; or when the doctor fails to realize the most basic of forensic points (that a man was stabbed after death), it makes Poirot’s cleverness merely the rationality of the not-stupid. Still, nit-picking leaches the fun out of the mystery, and it is indeed quite fun.
Three and a half stars.Poirot receives a letter from a client which requires a sudden rush to France by boat, accompanied by Hastings. On arrival at the home of Monsieur and Madame Renauld they are confronted by the celebrated French detective, Monsieur Giraud. Their working relationship is not an easy one and both Poirot and Giraud feel a sense of superiority over their own reputations and very different methods. Giraud is deliberately insulting and in return, Poirot taunts Giraud.The novel is narrated by Hastings who shows an ineptitude and gullibility which is both amusing and irritating. Poirot guides Hastings with patience and understanding. I feel that the title is rather misleading as there is very little related to golf in the story.This is an early Poirot and it did show in some of Christie's writing, but it did not spoil my enjoyment of the book and the plot was very clever.
Re-read 2/16/12: I'm in the process of re-reading all of Agatha Christie - one of my favorite authors! I'd take Agatha over most other books, but this isn't my favorite book of hers. It's the 3rd book she published and her second to involve Hercule Poirot. I think she stumbled a bit. She defines Poirot's character, but makes him appear a bit too harsh. She also makes Hastings appear like a love-sick buffoon, instead of just a lovable romance-prone gentleman. She won't write about the pair again for several more books. I read that she personally didn't like the Poirot character but continued to write about him due to public demand. This might have been her attempt to define and kill interest in the character, but it ultimately didn't work.The plot of this story is too difficult to follow, much less describe here. Poirot is summoned by an English millionaire living in France who is fearful for his life. However, when he and Hastings arrive on the scene the millionaire is already murdered. (This happens in the first chapter or so - I'm not spoiling anything.) What follows is an investigation with so many alternative theories and possible endings it is hard to keep track. Overdone.It is also interesting to note that Agatha often includes female characters that are smart beyond the expectation of their time. However, in this book she introduces female characters that are malicious and use romance/female wiles to bad ends. This is a first and, I believe, a rarity for Agatha. I think she tried some things in this book that didn't work and had to pull back and re-frame her future writing a bit.
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