After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

December 1, 2009

after-the-funeral Plot summary (with possible spoilers): The wealthy Richard Abernethie has just died, apparently of natural causes. As the family gather together for the funeral, many of the members are seeing each other for the first time in decades. Things go rather smoothly until after the funeral, when Cora Lansquenet, Richard’s sister, says, “But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”

No one knows quite what to make of Cora’s utterance, but since she has been thought tactful and indelicate since childhood, the tendency is for the family to laugh it off. After all, Cora’s an old woman now, and old women will say crazy things. But upon returning to her own home, Cora herself is brutally murdered with a hatchet, leading some in the family to think that she knew more about Richard’s death than she let on. Was Richard really murdered? And if so, did the killer then set his sights on Cora to silence her?

Mr. Entwhistle, the Abernethie family lawyer, thinks he owes it to his old friend Richard to find out what really happened. First, he involves the police and a private detective, but when they make no headway at all, he turns to old friend Hercule Poirot.

Unlike in his younger and more active days Poirot doesn’t do a heck of a lot of investigating in this one. In fact, only see him occasionally during the course of the book, as he pops up here and there to ask a few puzzling questions and then muse over the answers. He doesn’t interview all the suspects as he usually does, but instead sits back and “observes” them while they interact as a family. He still manages to solve the case in this way, however, because that’s what Poirot does!

Liked:

  • The killer’s identity was hard to guess, even though there were a generous number of clues sprinkled throughout the story. Once the answer was revealed at the end, I had one of those, “Ah ha!” moments where I realized I should have known it was Miss Gilchrist all along.
  • I thought the murder itself was interesting in the way that it piggybacked on Abernethie’s natural death. That was a nice bit of misdirection by Christie, and gave a different meaning to the “opportunity” portion of the crime — though the motive, of course, was generally the same.

Disliked:

  • Poirot didn’t appear until 26 percent through the book (I read the Kindle edition, so I didn’t have page numbers to work with, just percentages), which was far too long of a wait for the detective. And then when he arrived, he was barely even involved. That made the book drag on a bit longer than usual for me, as Poirot is typically the main attraction rather than an afterthought.

Rating:

After the Funeral
by Agatha Christie was a slightly above-average murder mystery. The crime itself was good, there were plenty of viable suspects, and the author really keeps you guessing until the end. However, this was advertised as a “Poirot novel”, and the fact that he doesn’t take as active a part as usual brought the book down a notch in my estimation. I therefore give it 3 stars out of 5.

One Response to “After the Funeral by Agatha Christie”

  1. this book sucks

Leave a Reply