Third Girl by Agatha Christie

December 12, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): Three young women share a London flat. The first is a coolly efficient secretary. The second is an artist. The third interrupts Hercule Poirot’s breakfast confessing that she is a murderer—and then promptly disappears.

Slowly, Poirot learns of the rumors surrounding the mysterious third girl, her family, and her disappearance. Yet hard evidence is needed before the great detective can pronounce her guilty, innocent, or insane.…

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • At least Hercule Poirot was actively involved in this case. I like it when he actually interviews witnesses, views crime scenes, and sets subtle little traps for people. In the last few novels featuring this particular detective, he didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of investigating. He seemed back to form here.
  • I liked that Christie acknowledged Poirot’s age in this novel. She admitted in at least a few interviews that she started him off too old, and then had to find ways to make him not seem as ancient as he would have been if his years unfolded as chronologically as the books. (If he aged in real time, he would have been close to 100 or more in this one!)
  • I picked up on the painting clue almost immediately. I knew there had to be a reason it was mentioned so much, and I was right! Score one for me!
  • I loved how much Christie made fun of the long-haired, dope smoking hippie youths of the day (the ’60s). Her observations were funny — probably because I share her opinion.

Disliked:

  • The story was a bit hard to follow. It was also kind of boring at times, which made me pay even less attention than usual. As a result, by the time the answers were revealed, they made practically zero impact on me.
  • The title of this book had me hoping that one of the main threads would be a love triangle direct from a romance novel or soap opera. I think that would have been much better than what readers actually got!
  • Wait, was this yet another case of impersonation/fake identity?! Come on, Dame Agatha, I expect more from you than the same old ruse that you’ve used numerous times already!
  • How convenient that Norma and the good doctor should run off and get married. It’s funny how Agatha Christie didn’t seem to lose her romantic tastes, even as she got up there in years.
  • Since all these murders and whatnot were committed for money, I wish Christie had given the reader a general idea of how much was at stake. I don’t think a figure was ever mentioned. It was just hinted that the Restaricks were very wealthy.
  • I still don’t like Ariadne Oliver, and thought she was particularly ridiculous in this one with all her wigs and stuff.
  • Speaking of wigs, just how was it that Poirot put everything together simply from knowing that Mrs. Restarick wore a wig? It seemed like a pretty big leap to go from, “Oh, she wears a wig because it’s convenient” to “She wears a wig so she can pose as someone else and commit murder!” Spelling out the intermediary steps would have been helpful.

Rating:

Overall, Third Girl is an Agatha Christie novel that the author herself probably would wish erased from her canon. It just didn’t feel like a real Christie book in the sense that there was very little suspense along the way and most of the book was quite dull. Furthermore, the solution was a stretch and rather implausible. I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

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