The Big Four is Agatha Christie’s fifth Hercule Poirot book, fourth novel. I enjoyed it, Poirot was a lot of fun, and it was good to have Hastings back in the story. It was originally published in 1927 and some of the language is not as politically-correct, as we say nowadays, as one would think. Christie was, obviously, a spunky and sharp-witted woman.
The Big Four is perfect for people who are new to Poirot, I think, and don’t really enjoy cozy mysteries. This is really a mystery/thriller and really seems a prime candidate for some film company to use as a summer blockbuster. Adjust a few things, get a couple solid actors, and shazam! a movie. The storyline speeds along much quicker in this novel than in the previous ones and there are more physical confrontations. In the previous novels, Poirot and Hastings do not really deal with situations in which they are in true physical danger. Generally, they are involved in intellectual battles.
The Big Four is actually an international group of anarchist criminals. There are four and we are to believe that they have a hand in many worldwide occurrences. In fact, today, we would call them a terrorist cell. Christie, I feel, was trying out Poirot on a big stage – international events and crimes that affect the world, not just some small UK village. I kind of want to ask Christie: “So, how do you feel about Poirot and Hastings on this level?” I think Poirot is much more charming on a smaller scale, but I do want to say that this story seems to make Poirot even more unbelievably impressive.
At points, the reader will truly feel that Christie is pulling a bit too much from Doyle’s Watson, Sherlock, Moriarty, Irene setup. And I’m okay with it. Other readers may want to complain about using a recycled idea. Another small complaint: Hastings rushed off to Argentina, but in this novel it seems like he is in England with Poirot (and for no other reason than hanging out with Poirot) for at least two years. I mean, what was all the googly-eyed romance about his wife about if he can take off to England for years? This was a bit odd. On the other hand, yeah, we missed Hastings, so who cares about his silly wife in South America?
I probably should give this novel 3 stars. However, I am giving it 4. I cannot help myself… I still love Poirot and Agatha is a Dame Commander, so who am I to criticize? I think I will try to cast this movie in my head this evening. Should be a fun supper activity. And thinking about a book after the last page is done good and read is a good sign!
(Not to put too fine a point on it, but OF COURSE I have to give this FOUR stars!)