Colin Lamb, a young marine biologist and Intelligence agent, is paying a visit to Wilbraham Crescent when a young girl comes running out of one of the homes. She is screaming that she has found a dead man inside. Indeed, a corpse is there surrounded by a room filled with clocks set to 4:13, although it is only 3:13. Colin takes the problem to his father's old friend, Hercule Poirot, who at once pronounces it a "simple" case. Two more murders, an unidentifiable body, a mysterious secretarial school, and the search for a clever spy are the clues that Poirot's little grey cells must sift through before he reveals the answer to this "simple" case.
A classic whodunit from the Master. It begins with a highly improbable situation (what is the dead man doing in the blind schoolmarm's home and why does a lovely young typist stumble into the lap of murder? It's a tough one to figure out, partly because Christie withouts just a little too much info, but it's fun to puzzle over. if you solve it, you deserve a medal!
Christie is the Mistress of Mystery, but this book really is not worth your time. The characters are completely uninteresting, and the solving of the crime itself is very scattered and disconnected. There weren't any moments of revelation, but neither was it a methodical piecing together of different clues. Poirot, the pompous/genius/entertaining detective we all know and love, is on the sidelines (or unmentioned) for 80-90% of the book.
*MILD SPOILER WARNING* What really annoyed me was that, in the end, the most intriguing pieces of the puzzle were found to be completely irrelevant and unnecessary!
There are some truly great Hercule Poirot novels! Read "The Murder on the Links," "Five Little Pigs (Murder in Retrospect", or "Murder on the Orient Express" to really get a feel for what Agatha Christie and her Belgian detective are capable of.
Inspector Hardcastle and Colin Lamb provide the impetus in this one. Poirotretired but not too tiredhas been perusing detective novels and applying them to his experience. When he is contacted by his friend, Lamb, he enters the picture late and merely from an armchair. Thus, from behind the scene, he solves this simple yet baffling case. Look for quotes from Alice Through the Looking Glass as hints as to the solution. Rather good except for the usual Poirot solution.
Though this is labeled as a Hercule Poirot mystery, the actual protagonist of the story is a government agent called Colin Lamb. The writing is above average for crime fiction, though because Poirot's near the end of his career, his role is disappointing enough, limited to the extent of providing the conclusion. Besides that complaint, this a quick, enjoyable mystery that is impossibly beforehand, but which makes sense once explained. The characters are interesting, the plot is high above most of the mass of crime fiction. A satisfying book that is mentally stimulating (trying to figure the crime out beforehand) and fun.
Famous mystery writer Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has to solve this murder fast, before another one occurs. And all he has for clues are four clocks, all set at 4:13. His witnesses include a blind woman, and an unaware passerby. Another of Christie's well plotted stories filled with interesting characters and ample, but not always apparent clues.