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."