25 October, 2021

Best/Worst Surprise Endings

Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Agatha Christie

If you are a devout reader of mystery’s than you have no doubt read countless books written by Agatha Christie.  While most of her books are generally engaging, they are for the most part formulaic.  The dedicated Christie reader however, ignores this characteristic as the stories always take place in an interesting locale, such as Egypt or the famed Orient Express.  Even the typical English village of the thirties and forties becomes fraught with danger, excitement and murder, often at the hands of some charming character who suffers from an unfortunate personality flaw.

In Curtain, the reader finds her most famous detective, Hercule Poirot, elderly and physically incapacitated in his final days.  Reunited with his friend and fellow sleuth, Hastings, the two embark on one last mystery involving a serial killer, referred to by Poirot as X.

So significant was Hercule Poirot, that upon publication of Curtain in 1975, The New York Times actually carried his obituary, printed on the papers’ front page.  However, more surprising than the death of the famed fictional detective, was one of the most spectacular twists found in mystery fiction.  There was a reason why Christie, who had written the novel during WWII, kept the book locked in a vault, to be published only after she was no longer able to write.

-Lisa Emig

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