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Elephants Can Remember: A Hercule Poirot Mystery [Paperback]

Agatha Christie
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 17 2011 Hercule Poirot Mysteries
The Queen of Mystery has come to Harper Collins! Agatha Christie, the acknowledged mistress of suspense—creator of indomitable sleuth Miss Marple, meticulous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and so many other unforgettable characters—brings her entire oeuvre of ingenious whodunits, locked room mysteries, and perplexing puzzles to Harper Paperbacks. A classic Poirot investigation, Elephants Can Remember has the expert detective delving into an unsolved crime from the past involving the strange death of a husband and wife.

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Elephants Can Remember: A Hercule Poirot Mystery + Dumb Witness: A Hercule Poirot Mystery + Hercule Poirot Third Girl
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Did General Ravenscroft kill Lady Ravenscroft or was she the one holding the gun? Many years later their daughter would like to know, so her godmother, Ariadne Oliver, asks Hercule Poirot to investigate. Working in tandem, Mrs. Oliver and Poirot identify and interview an ever-increasing list of witnesses (the elephants of the title). Poirot painstakingly reconstructs long-vanished relationships, and his deductions eventually lead him to one final witness. Even the great Christie recycled concepts from time to time; this mystery is one of several "remembered death" titles, characterized by long, descriptive conversations that can be tedious. In this case the contrast between Poirot's severe, analytical style and that of the charming but erratic Mrs. Oliver adds life to what would otherwise be a rather dull tale. John Moffatt delivers the competent if unexciting reading one expects from this producer. Christie at her worst (which this is not) is still better than most mystery writers. Recommended for all mid- to large-sized libraries.DI. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Splendid....She tells us all we want to know and nothing that is irrelevant.” (The Times (London))

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing murder in retrospect mystery May 2 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Celia Ravenscroft is but a little girl when both her parents commit suicide. Never did she worry about the real reasons for that dramatic event, until today when she stands on the verge of getting married to Desmond Burton-Cox. Only one question suddenly seems of importance: Who killed whom, Celia's father or mother? Reason enough for Ariadne Oliver, Celia's godmother, to pay a visit to her old friend Hercule Poirot. The famous sleuth persuades Mrs. Oliver to delve -with his guidance, of course- into the past, to find the persons who are like elephants, the persons who will still remember the important details about this all-but-forgotten tragedy.
Elephants Can Remember is Agatha Christie's next to last work of detection and the author shows clearly signs of age, which is understandable since she was eighty-two years old and in failing health.
Elephants Can Remember is a "murder in retrospect" mystery. Although Christie has proven to fully master this format -see Sparkling Cyanide and Five Little Pigs- she now quickly looses touch with the story. She is forced to sow the narrative together with vague memories of a series of old spinsters and suddenly even events that should easily be remembered are covered by the veil of forgetfulness. No surprise that the plot is total confusion. It is less a mystery than a scrapbook of memories. Action is less important than atmosphere, which makes the story quite tedious and difficult to hang on to. Nevertheless, the experienced reader will figure out the solution to this not too mysterious mystery halfway through the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cosy and nice. Feb. 23 2004
By Donnald
Format:Audio Cassette
Great book
I bought this book on tape by John Moffatt (no! not BY him, but read by him). This book proves a theory though; there's a significant change in Mrs. Christies writing over the years; the nice young lady who writes well-puzzled, crafted, formula, to-the-point murder mystery; and the old lady who's slightly bitter to the modern world, but writes more real and cozy books, about peoples lives. More relaxed and less upthight books. This book falls into the latter category. That doesn't mean it' a bad book, no-no! It's good, but different from earlier works. The later books seem to be more relaxed, and more about looking back, and viewing things from a distance; about great characters telling(not acting)great stories! This book really has a realistic ring to it; it has good, funny characters. It's not as "British murder mystery" as some of her other work, but more real, somehow.
PS. Those of you who didn't like the book, get a hold of John Moffatt's reading, he's great! Really makes the characters come alive!!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Old Sins Cast Long Shadows Aug. 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel written in the twilight of Dame Agatha's long and illustrious career (1972) would have been better left on the cutting room floor. It was especially painful for me to read because I not long ago re-read her vibrant, lively and completely mystifying "Murder at the Vicarage" which was written in 1927. The comparison was depressing.
Hercule Poirot is teamed with Mrs. Oliver, a crime novelist, to find the truth of a 15-20 year old murder/suicide. Mrs. Oliver's goddaughter, Celia is the daughter of the couple who supposedly entered this pact. For the first one-half of the book, we are not advanced an inch in any direction. Many people are interviewed (the "elephants" of the title) and most have vague memories of the couple, as does Mrs. Oliver herself. Mrs. O's dithering is not artlessly charming, for we are as confused as she. Saddest cut of all, the red herrings are not "herrings" at all. They are giant signposts. Rather than Poirot gracefully unraveling the mystery on the last page, the reader has left him in the dust 50 pages ago. The prose has a distinctly purplish hue.
According to the publisher, "Elephants Can Remember" was originally published as "Five Little Pigs." I do not recommend this book, because it does not do Dame Agatha justice. There are 75 titles to choose that will far better reflect her abilities and why she earned the title "Queen of Crime."
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3.0 out of 5 stars If this had been a true-blue detective novel ... July 16 2002
By snowy
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It could have been solved in half the time. But it is not, and to appreciate or understand this novel, readers must place it in the proper context.
The problem was at first vague; Ariadne Oliver was asked by a stranger if the mother of Ariadne's goddaughter killed the father, or was it vice-versa. The deaths were actually some twenty years or more before. As the stranger was the mother to a man who was contemplating marriage to Ariadne's goddaughter, she could be partially forgiven for her apparent concern. Of course one of the things Ariadne did was to call on Hercule Poirot, and together they embarked on elephant-chase to pry for secrets from the past.
"Elephants can remember" was published in 1972, that is 52 years after the first Poirot novel "The Mysterious Affairs at Styles". Many people did not even live that long. Agatha Christie aged her characters along with the years, and therefore there were cases that were different from bodies being found all over the place.
Other similar novels before this whereby Christie's detectives investigate deaths long in the past included Dumb Witness, Five Little Pigs, Mrs McGinty's Dead, Ordeal By Innocence, and Nemesis. The common theme among them was that the investigator(s) had to depend on memories of various people who might not even be present; but from their recollections, clues were found to provide either the definitive picture of the culprits or the definitive picture of the crime. What a lot of impatient readers would find irritating was having to sift through the useful information from the useless. Elephants is such another tale.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad inability to escape the past
Poignant story contains more dialogue than action but does have one of Christie's best twist endings, which is also a real heartbreaker. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2001 by JR
5.0 out of 5 stars Poirot Relies on "Elephants" to Solve Long-Ago Mystery
Twenty years before this novel opens, a tragic double-death has occurred. Alistair Ravenscroft and his wife Margaret were found shot to death near their home. Read more
Published on June 16 2001 by Antoinette Klein
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste Of Time
I had to read a novel for English class and I picked this one out. I didn't really enjoy it because it was very boring and very predictable. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2000 by Courtney
3.0 out of 5 stars 50/50
Well,first of all I'd just like to start off by saying that Ms.Christie was not a charlatan writer.Her gift for writing was innate and affluent. Read more
Published on April 28 2000 by Lulu
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Mystery - No elephants Involved.
This mystery novel with 'Elephants' in its title uses the word elephant metaphorically to identify humans with long memories. Read more
Published on April 15 2000 by W. Hepburn
2.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie, but this mystery was lacking. I figured out whodunnit about halfway through the novel, but thought to myself, "No...it can't be so-and-so! Read more
Published on April 7 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars elephants do forget.....
i was so astonished when reading this book as it kept me on the exciting pace with the good plot.... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2000 by ainil bahshar
1.0 out of 5 stars Even Agatha Christie can run out of convincing plots.
Inspite of a good character analysis and settings, this book falls much much below the usual standard of A.C. The plot especially is a BIG let-down and the climax falls flat. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Excellent!
Elephants Can Remember is one of Agatha Cristi's great books....It has a great plot and an excellent set of charcters. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 1999
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