~ HALLOWEEN APPROVED ~
(This book, or part of it, is set on Halloween)
It is Autumn, this week there have been storm clouds in the sky and wind pulling leaves off branches. I am preparing for Halloween and hopefully a horde of trick or treaters who will be knocking on doors in the near future. In my preparation, I was also listening to Christie’s ‘Hallowe’en Party.’ It is a book I have not read by an author I consider an old friend – even if I never met her. Agatha Christie and her beloved Belgian Hercule Poirot are special to me. I watched the series with Hugh Fraser as Hastings and David Suchet as Poirot with my family as a child. Recently, I watched several with my father and they withstood the test of time. It was with joy I found out the narration was done by Hugh Fraser heightening a sense of nostalgia for me and I burrowed down into blankets and dogs to enjoy this mystery.
Hercule Poirot is older now, at the end of his career, but he still seeks justice with a well-groomed mustache and patent leather shoes. At the request of his friend the famous murder mystery writer, Ariadne Oliver, he has come to help solve the death of a young girl. Ariadne was invited to her friend’s house for a Halloween Party. Amidst the broom decoration, witches telling young girls fortunes, bobbing for apples, and the snapdragon a girl is found drowned. Not in a mundane fashion either, she was found with her head floating in the tub used for bobbing for apples. No one can think why someone would want her dead. She wasn’t delightful, in fact she was known to seek attention by lying, but she wasn’t what one would consider special. Ariadne heard the young girl boasting of having seen a murder to her friends, but when no one believed her she flounced off in a huff. It wasn’t until the party was over anyone noticed her disappearance. Ariadne, noticing something more sinister, insists Poirot come and use his skills to find out what is really happening in this quiet village.
Christie’s writing is as enjoyable as ever. Her humor in these delicate murder mysteries is part of what I think made her stories unique and loved. She never skimped on creating real whole characters. ‘Hallowe’en Party’ is not long but it is packed with a good mystery, and commentary on the times it was written. This was published in 1969 and while it still holds the atmosphere of a quiet English village you can feel Christie seeing the changes in England as she writes about it, including the changing opinions on children, accountability, and justice. Much is said about how making “morally right” decisions can have larger, and in Christie’s view more negative, impacts on children and society.
The Halloween party is perfect. You get a lot of discussion about village witches, the difference between pumpkins and vegetable marrows, young girls seeing their future husbands in mirrors, and a Snapdragon. I had no idea what a Snapdragon is. For your information ‘Snapdragon’ is a Victorian parlour game where raisins are put in a shallow bowl filled with brandy. The Brandy is lit and children try to grab the “snapping” raisins from the bowl. It sounds a touch dangerous to me but it definitely fits as a fun Halloween game (even if it usually took place at Christmas time).
Small town politics and gossip, as is tradition, help Christie’s characters find their murderer. I loved this book. It will definitely be something I reread/relisten to around Halloween. It is the perfect length at 336 pages or about six hours listening time. It will get you ready for a Halloween party of your own…
*This is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon starting 10-19-15*