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Sad Cypress: A Hercule Poirot Mystery Paperback – Aug 30 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (Aug. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006207394X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062073945
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

This recording of Sad Cypress features Christie's super detective, Hercule Poirot (e.g., Murder on the Orient Exress, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/1/94), and a reading by David Suchet, who is well known for playing Poirot on BBC television. The story concerns Elinor Carlisle, accused of murdering another young woman while in a jealous rage. The evidence against Elinor is overwhelming, and she seems destined for prison until a friend and admirer engages Poirot. What follows is the usual Christie puzzle, which listeners are invited to help solve. Suchet reads superbly and provides each character, especially Poirot, with a distinct personality. While this is not Christie's best book, it is nonetheless entertaining. Recommended for mystery collections.
Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“What Agatha Christie taught me was all about the delicate placement of the red herring. She was the ultimate genius behind ‘by indirections shall we find directions out.’” (Elizabeth George, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley novels)

“Poirot solves another exciting case.” (Daily Mail (London))

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
With a beautiful title taken from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', 'Sad Cypress' is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books, and also one of the best to feature Poirot. It doesn't have the sheer audacity of, say, 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd', but as one of her more emotionally engaging books it's at least up there with 'Five Little Pigs' (another underrated story), or the beautiful 'A Murder is Announced'.

As the book opens, the main character Elinor Carlisle is on trial for her life. The courtroom setting doesn't really mean much one way or the other, it's merely Christie experimenting with a new kind of plot framing device. No, it is the mystery of Elinor's personality and her true motivations which keep the reader guessing continually throughout the book, and hungry to learn who really killed the poisoning victim, Mary Gerrard.

Agatha Christie is usually ignored by literary critics or dismissed as 'genre fiction', but she was actually a master at portraying a wide range of psychological types, and that (along with her cunning solutions) is probably the reason that she's still the bestselling novelist of all time. Although her psychological types can occasionally be a little unbelievable as flesh and blood characters, that certainly isn't the case here - 'Sad Cypress' contains some of her most memorable and vivid figures. It will definitely stick in your head for some time after you have read it.
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Elinor Carlisle, a sensible, well educated young woman, and her distant cousin, Roddy Welman, a somewhat less well focused amiable gentleman - perhaps even a bit of a dandy - are happily engaged. They both know they are living somewhat beyond their means but they take comfort in their expectation of the inheritance of a very sizable fortune from their elderly aunt, Laura Welman. When they receive an anonymous mean-spirited letter suggesting that someone is cozying up to their aunt and worming their way into her affections, Elinor suspects young Mary Gerrard, her aunt's lodge-keeper's daughter. Rationalizing with one another that they really ought to be making a greater effort to see their aunt more frequently, Elinor and Roddy quickly pack up for a visit to Mrs Welman with a concerned view to protecting their interests in the estate.

During the course of their visit, when Roddy's head is turned by Mary Gerrard's stunning good looks and he becomes hopelessly infatuated with her, Elinor breaks off their engagement. When Mary Gerrard is murdered by the administration of a fatal dose of morphine in a sandwich and, shortly afterward, Aunt Laura dies intestate leaving Elinor as the sole heir of the entire estate by virtue of being the only surviving blood relative, Elinor quickly finds herself in the dock for Mary's murder. As the only suspect with both the means and the motive to dispose of Mary Gerrard, her conviction is all but certain.

But "Sad Cypress" is a complex mystery with many motivational twists and turns. Roddy Welman's head wasn't the only head turned with new found love. Peter Lord, the Welman's family physician, has fallen behind over tea kettle into love with Elinor Carlisle.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This 1939 novel has been compared to the 1930 STRONG POISON by Dorothy Sayers. Both novels begin with the courtroom observations of a young woman accused of murder by poisoning. Both young women are befriended by a young man who sets out to clear her of the crime and fall in love with her in the process. Christie's rescuer is named Peter Lord while Sayers' is, of course, Lord Peter. Even with these similarities the two stories, although both excellent, are vastly different.
Elinor Carlisle had an understanding with her cousin-by-marriage Roderick Welman, that one day they would wed, live happily in their mutual Aunt Laura's country house with her considerable fortune somehow split between them. The plan suited them all, Elinor, Roddy and Aunt Laura. Aunt Laura was now in failing health and was being cared for by nurses, her servants, a doctor and Mary, a young woman who had grown up on the estate and of whom Aunt Laura had always been quite fond...perhaps too fond for Elinor and Roddy's own good.
Aunt Laura died, not to anyone's surprise but had left no will, much to everyone's surprise. As her only living blood relative Elinor inherited everything - lucky Elinor! Except Mary was so lovely, and Roddy so smitten with her that the engagement was called off. Then Mary died, of poison and Elinor was the only one of could have committed the crime.
Dr. Lord made an impassioned plea to Hercule Poirot to prove Elinor innocent - if she was in fact innocent. Poirot reluctantly agrees and begins to sort through motives, love affairs and long buried secrets to arrive at the truth.
The opening is dramatic altough it causes the problem of making the most sympathetic character, Mary, known to the read as the victim. The questions remain, however, of who did it, why, and how for the reader to try to puzzle through before Poirot reveals all.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Come away, come away, death,
and in sad cypress let me be laid;
fly away, fly away breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid
- clown's song in Shakespeare's _Twelfth Night_, Act II, scene 4
Copyright 1939/1940. No narrator.
Unusual structure: the prologue is from the viewpoint of Elinor Carlisle, on trial for the murder of Mary Gerrard. Her defense counsel has a bad fright as she hesitates before pleading 'not guilty'. From her viewpoint, we can see only a frozen, numb detachment. Poirot is in court, watching her; she believes he's attempting to tell why she did it.
For all we know, she might have.
Part I, told in flashback from Elinor's viewpoint, begins at what Elinor considers the starting point - the arrival of an anonymous letter - and ending with Mary Gerrard's death; Poirot has no part to play here. (Occasionally the flashback slips a little, following Mary Gerrard through scenes where Elinor wasn't present; however, such scenes pull their weight in terms of character development, which also serves to bring the crime home to the reader, as we get to know the victim. Or do we?)
Poirot enters the tale properly in Part II, when Peter Lord, the local doctor who seems to have fallen for Elinor, asks Poirot to clear her - admitting flat out that he doesn't care about the truth. (Poirot, of course, doesn't take it on those terms, and Lord gives in, since no truth could make the case against Elinor any worse - as far as he can see). Part I is told in flashback from Elinor's viewpoint, though not in 1st person. Part II follows Poirot in 3rd person as do most non-Hastings Poirot stories.
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