The Big Four: A Hercule Poirot Mystery Paperback – Aug 30 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
One of mystery fiction's most beloved heroes, Hercule Poirot, is brought vividly to life in this delightful audio production. Originally published in 1927, this outing thrusts Poirot into one of Christie's most outlandish and melodramatic adventures. It finds her Belgian detective pitted against an international quartet of criminal masterminds bent on world domination. Narrator Fraser is no stranger to Poirot's world, having played the detective's faithful companion, Captain Hastings, in several made-for-TV movies. A gifted reader, he obviously enjoys interpreting this material, and he perfectly captures each of Christie's diverse characters, shifting flawlessly from one to the other. But it is in his portrayal of Poirot that Fraser shines. With a well-tuned accent, Fraser brings out the full range of Christie's eccentric detective. This mystery may not be Christie's best, but with its over-the-top premise and international cast of villains, portrayed with relish by Fraser, it is certainly one of her most entertaining. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“It is always a delight to meet Hercule Poirot again. He is one of the few detectives with real charm.” (Dorothy L. Sayers)
“The acknowledged queen of detective fiction.” (The Observer (UK))
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Top Customer Reviews
The story opens with Hastings planning to surprise Poirot by arriving from South America unannounced only to be surprised himself by Poirot's own imminient departure - for South America. A filthy stranger bursts into Poirot's apartment with a cryptic message which sets the two detectives on a long and twisted trail to save the world.
This book was published in 1927 not long after Christie's first marriage ended (and her mysterious disappearance). She was in deep financial trouble and took a suggestion to link together a series of previously published stories. (Information from Agatha Christie's autobiograhy).
This resulting book was immensely popular when it was first released but has not aged that well, in my opinion. If you are, like me, an advid Christie fan, you will probably find this book amusing but if you are new to Christie's work or are only familiar with the later books you probably would be better served with another choice.
As Holmes and Watson dueled to the death with Moriarty and his three henchmen in "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House", Poirot and Hastings do battle with the Big Four. Moriarty's aims were more modest than the Big Four's, but Poirot's battle was no more earnest than Holmes'. Just as Holmes' smarter brother, the indolent Mycroft, assisted in the defeat of Moriarty, Hercule's smarter-but-lazy brother Achille assisted in the defeat of the Big Four.
The story proved fun to read, but it wasn't up to the best of Christie's efforts.
Poirot and Hastings are bested by the Big Four at every turn, falling into traps where their death was supposed to be certain. Poirot becomes obsessed by this organization, much like another famous fictional detective and his sworn archnemesis. The ending seems to only have Poirot save face after being outsmarted by this group many times over.
In the end, this book was good not for its plot, which you can see in any espionage book or film, but for the seemingly eerie similarities in Christie's Big Four and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty. All it needed was Poirot playing the violin!
The Big Four has Poirot go head to head with this larger then life crime group - aptly named The Big Four - which, amazingly, no one has ever heard of. The members of the Big Four are a Chinese businessman who helped the Russian Revolution, the richest man in the world, a brilliant French scientist, and another unknown man.
The Big Four has its headquarters in the side of a mountain, is capable of overthrowing governments, hijacking weapons and numerous other dangerous deeds that would put the bad guys from a James Bond movie to shame.
Besides the ridiculous story, boring characters and some of the least surprising plot twists I've ever seen from Agatha Christie, there really isn't much here worth mentioning.
If you're interested in seeing what a Bond movie in the 30s would be like, maybe the Big Four is for you, otherwise I can't imagine who this would appeal to.
Most recent customer reviews
What can you say about Hercule Poirot....one of my very favourites. Just once I would like to be able to predict the ending, but once again Christie has fooled me.Published on Oct. 9 2013 by jill forrester
Agatha Christie was out of her element in the spy thriller, The Big Four, in which the villains are fomenting nothing short of world wide conquest. Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003 by Ricky Hunter
The Big Four represents one of Agatha Christie's early attempts at a "conspiracy" type mystery.Those familiar with some of her later efforts in this genre, such as "Passenger to... Read morePublished on June 16 2003 by Lisa Bahrami
I have read many Christie mysteries and Hercule Poirot is one of my favorite fictional detectives. He really shines in this book. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2003 by Melissa Bourdius
... Anyway, this book would entertain all readers because of its profinity and great danger. You have to like dangerous and surprising plots for this book. Read morePublished on May 8 2002
...this book would entertain all readers because of its profinity and great danger. You have to like dangerous and surprising plots for this book. Read morePublished on May 8 2002
Long before Hitler, Mussolini, or even Osama Bin Laden, Agatha Christie created a number of novels with the master-criminal-out-to-rule-the world theme. Read morePublished on April 27 2002 by Antoinette Klein
Several other reviewers rehashed the plot points already, so I won't do that right now. What I will say is that this book sat on my shelf for a while before I got to it, and when... Read morePublished on March 6 2002 by DARBY KERN