Hallowe’en Party

Hallowe'en Party (Hercule Poirot, #36)Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another Christie I’ve read and/or seen on TV (in this case I’m pretty sure it was TV) but I’m enjoying going back to these books sometimes nearly 30 years after I’ve read them, with an obviously more adult eye and with an awareness of the context in which they were written.

Hallowe’en Party was one of Christie’s later books, written in the 1960s I think and you can really tell how much the world had changed during her writing career. By this point Christie was obviously quite elderly and so it is perhaps unsurprising that the book is populated by a large number of elderly characters having a moan about how things weren’t as good as in the good ol’ days. Christie has, I’m guessing, also been on a number of garden tours, as she waxes quite lyrically about various gardens in the book. She also can’t seem to resist revisiting, even just for a brief name check, several of her earlier books.

Anyway in Hallowe’en Party, one of those village busybodies is putting on a children’s Halloween party. Whilst preparing for the party one of the children boasts that they’ve seen a murder, nobody believes her but she soon ends up dead in the apple bobbing bucket. Hercule Poirot is called to investigate and this involves lots of juicy raking around in everyone’s past because after all, if the girl had been telling the truth then maybe finding out which death she was referring to would identify her killer. There are lots of clues and avenues to follow up.

So it was a pretty fun book, it certainly kept my attention. However it’s one of those books that could be almost considered offensive these days, as a lot of the characters have some very prehistoric attitudes towards mental health. Most of the characters think the killer is some random, mentally deranged “nutter” who, if you believed the characters, 1960s England is so full off you probably can’t move without tripping over someone who should be locked into an asylum. But I guess the historic context is just something to be bared in mind when reading this, with the added hope that hopefully attitudes aren’t quite as bad these days.

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