A late, almost very late Hercule Poirot novel (the 39th! according to Goodreads) and while I don’t think the material is wearing down just yet, in that way that Agatha Christie’s last novels did, it raises some interesting questions. For one, while Halloween, like the other holidays are a part of our lives, they have this way of feeling in literature, and especially in movies, and ESPECIALLY in television of being part of a gimmicky holiday special kind of thing. So the fact that we have Poirot showing up to a Halloween party to discuss first one, then a second murder, has that same feeling as a holiday special of a novel, and as a consequence, less good.
It’s actually a perfectly solid mystery over all. Christie didn’t often murder children, and when she did it feels especially gruesome. And here we have the death of a young girl who tells her friends at a Halloween party that she’s seen a murder, but didn’t know it was a murder at the time. If that feels like an overtly precocious thing to say, well they address that here. This book then tries to explore motive not only in a changing society, but in a changing literary landscape. Like a lot of Christie novels in the 1960s (and lots of novels in the 1960s) Christie to trying to reckon with the ways in which her genre has shifted with the awareness of something like motiveless crimes — where murder is the motive itself. And so this book explores this. What stands out here, is that Poirot (who if he aged with his novels should be in his 90s) feels out of step for that kind of crime.