Sunday, December 02, 2012
Capsule Review: Elephants Can Remember
First published 1972; 224 pages
This was actually a re-read: It was one of the first Christies I read many many (MANY, MANY!!!) years ago. I've been gradually reading (or re-reading) all the Hercule Poirot novels that feature his mystery-writing friend Ariadne Oliver, and this is one of those.
In this novel, Mrs. Oliver is asked by a Mrs. Burton-Cox to discover the truth about a crime that happened in the past – a murder involving the parents of Celia Ravenscroft, the girl who is about to become engaged to Mrs. B-C's son. At first annoyed by the request, Ariadne soon becomes curious and starts interviewing people about the murder, and of course eventually calls upon her good friend Hercule Poirot for help.
Like most of Christie's works, this one has a long line-up of characters. It also involves a number of plot devices familiar to her readers – including mistaken identity, adoption and illegitimacy, and a pet dog who, as Poirot says, may be "more intelligent perhaps than the police."
I usually find the idea of investigating an ancient crime rather tedious. It takes away all the immediacy of the drama. And at the end of the book, after the mystery has been solved and everything is wrapped up, I did indeed find myself coming to a sort of "so what" moment which was a bit of a let-down. So I'd say while it's still a good read and I enjoyed it, it's definitely not the best example of Dame Agatha's work.