Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie

May 5, 2010

hickory dickory dock Plot summary (with spoilers): For the very first time in a full-length novel, Hercule Poirot’s ultra-efficient secretary Miss Lemon makes an appearance. She is under a lot of stress lately, as evidenced by a few mistakes she makes in typing letters for Poirot. Ordinarily, Miss Lemon does not make mistakes.

Poirot asks what’s wrong, and soon hears all about the problem. Miss Lemon’s sister Mrs. Hubbard runs a student hostel at 26 Hickory Road. There have recently been some strange goings-on there, and Mrs. Hubbard is worried about the place and its inhabitants. When Poirot hears that a random hodgepodge of trinkets have been stolen, he is immediately interested in the case. This is something he has never come across before, and after all, retirement is rather boring for him.

Poirot ventures out to Hickory Road, where he meets Mrs. Hubbard and the various student residents. After a short lecture and questioning period, Poirot figures out that a young woman named Celia Austin had been causing the mischief, and she did so in order to get the attention of Colin McNabb, a psychology student that she likes. After talking to Celia once more Poirot realizes that someone probably put her up to the whole thing. Celia agrees to restore the items, pay for damages, and stop stealing. Case closed.

No, of course that’s not the end of bad happenings on Hickory Road! It wouldn’t be an Agatha Christie book without a dead body or three, and those are soon to come. Celia is the first victim, and then Mrs. Nicoletis, the owner of the establishment. Finally, Patricia Lane, another student is bludgeoned to death as well.

Poirot continues his investigation, and slowly uncovers some surprising details about the hostel and its inhabitants. For instance, there is a drug and gem smuggling ring being orchestrated by someone, and another person might be in possession of a fake passport. With lots of students from a bunch of different countries, Poirot and the proper police inspectors come up with lots of potential theories for what is going on, until they finally hit upon the right one.

Liked:

  • This book had a different feel than some of the Christie books I’ve read recently. It seemed like a lot of things were going on behind the scenes, and the murders actually had a point to them.
  • There were plenty of red herrings strewn along the way, making it hard to figure out exactly what was going on. But Christie played fair, so by the time the solution was revealed, it seemed rather plausible on the whole.

Disliked:

  • The only thing I really disliked about this novel was how only a few of the students were truly developed as characters. In hindsight, I guess it would be possible to figure out the guilty parties by paying attention to who gets the most attention from the author.

Rating:

Hickory Dickory Dock is probably not considered one of Christie’s best efforts by true aficionados, but I liked it well enough. It held my interest throughout, and it featured Hercule Poirot, so those were definite pluses for me. I was disappointed not to get his standard speech at the end in front of a room full of suspects, though! At any rate, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

3 Responses to “Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie”

  1. Would you like to submit this post to the next Agatha Christie Blog Carnival? Go to http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_6057.html to do it.

  2. Thanks for the link! I went ahead and submitted this post for the May 23rd carnival.

  3. Thanks Julie. Don’t forget to submit any other Christie reviews that you write.

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