revealing that she has a sister! Poirot had never before considered that his incredibly efficient secretary could be so human. Miss Lemon's sister was responsible for the errors as well, there were troubling things taking place in her life. There were thefts taking place at the youth hostel where she worked. Poirot decided to look into the matter as a favor to Miss Lemon and so he could restore the order in his own life.
Poirot begins his investigation of the hostel and its residents but before he can solve the rash of petty thefts a murder occurs, a murder that is only the first of a series. The trail leads Poirot and the police into a world of smuggling with side trips through young love and family secrets.
In typical Christie fashion the clues are all laid out for the reader to follow. There are red herrings to confuse the armchair detective - perhaps a few too many in this one - and of course, the usual Christie 'twist' at the end.
It is often suggested that a writer should write about what they know and this book points out that Christie didn't know very much about unversity students in the mid-fifties. The characters do not come to life in this one they way they do in most of her other books. Keeping the various students/suspects sorted out it difficult because they really aren't very memorable. Also this one seems to suffer from too much - too much plot drug AND gem smuggling, too many red herrings and too many conincidences.
It should be noted that this book was originally written in 1955 and certain parts are very much representative of that time. Stereotypes of Italians, blacks, Indians, Cockneys etc are all present and tend to make the 21st century reader cringe.
Even though this is not one of Christie's masterpieces it is still an excellent read, thoroughly challenging and enjoyable.