Welcome back to AZE!
Today, I'll be discussing one of Agatha Christie's most renown pieces...
The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #5)
Standing in the doorway of Hercule Poirot's bedroom was an uninvited guest, covered in dust from head to toe. The man's haggard face stared blankly for a moment, and then he crumbled to the floor.
Who is this man? Is he suffering from shock or exhaustion? Most importantly, what is the significance of the figure 4 scribbled all across a white sheet of paper?
The Big Four, one of Agatha Christie's most popular novels, is famous due to the nature and structure of the story. While most of Christie's works analyze one specific case, this book features multiple stories that are all wound together to create a much larger narrative. Many readers have suggested that The Big Four reads similar to a short story collection as opposed to a classic literary work. While that may appear true to some, the book's structure is what's made this novel memorable for so many readers.
I can say with all certainty that while The Big Four isn't my favorite in the Poirot series, it was quite enjoyable. Although I prefer the classic detective mystery- one specific case followed by a set of clues- this change in narrative was fresh and pleasurable. It was interesting to see how versatile Christie's writing can be.
However, this "short story essence" resulted in the piece lacking character depth, something that I didn't particularly enjoy. Despite most readers being familiar with Poirot and Hastings, the accounts and thoughts of other characters involved was short and vague. Because of this, The Big Four leaves readers feeling like there should've been more.
Despite this, it's interesting to see how Poirot shifts from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4) to The Big Four. While both novels include the brilliant detective, the plot structure varies so greatly that other elements in the story, such as character and scene development, are greatly impacted.
If you're interested in short story collections, The Big Four is truly a great pick! However, if you're looking for a detective mystery, I suggest trying a different book in the Poirot series (perhaps The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)!