Name: Hallowe’en Party (Poirot #39)
Author: Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 244 (ebook)
Published: Harper Collins (first published November 1969)
A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples…At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…
More than one Readers Imbibing Peril has passed where I’ve added this book to my potential TBR pile and never got around to reading it, so this year I did. It fit the time of year, it fit the theme for my readathon. It’s a novel little touch, having the murder take place towards the end of a Halloween party, but that aside there isn’t actually much more of a Halloween theme throughout the book; you could pick this one up at any time of year.
Joyce Reynolds is one of many people attending a Halloween party. Preparations before said party see a group drawn together and Joyce, attention seeking and carried away at the presence of novelist Ariadne Oliver boasts that she once witnessed a murder, only she didn’t realise until some time afterwards that it was in fact a murder.
Later that night Joyce meets her end by way of an apple-bobbing tub.
Mrs Oliver calls on her good friend Poirot to try and get to the bottom of what happened, and whether Joyce did indeed witness a murder and if that was why this crime was committed.
A highlight for me was Ariadne Oliver. I think she features in other Poirot novels, but this is the first time I’ve come across her, and I like her wit and her easy friendship with Poirot. She’s not really in awe of him, jokes with him about his fussiness over dressing smartly, and offers up her own thoughts as to what is going on. She even manages to find out certain important information before Poirot. She’s an interesting companion for Poirot and I’ll certainly look out for the other novels in which she features.
Poirot is of course his usual dependable self, going about asking seemingly unrelated questions to a variety of people to gather a picture of events from years gone by and work out just how and where this original murder occurred, if it occurred at all, and who may have cause to continue in the same way now in order to conceal past crimes.
A tangled web of lies, deceit, forged wills, a possible murder from years ago, and a big cast of characters who may have played some part in events of the past made this an interesting one to guess at. I fell in for at least one red herring, but I don’t mind that, it makes it more of a surprise when the truth is revealed.
If you’re looking for a murder mystery with a very slight seasonal touch, or fancy something a little Halloween-ish without the ghosts and monsters that reside elsewhere in books, then this might be worth a read.