Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christie's The Labors of Hercules & Poirot

Of all of Agatha Christie's creations Hercule Poirot is my favorite and one of my favorite of Christie's short story collections is The Labors of Hercules. 

In the Labors of Hercules, Poirot decides to slow down his case load in semi-retirement and to only take cases that relate to the Twelve Labors of Hercules, his namesake. Now I suppose that I knew that Hercule was named after Hercules of classical mythology (son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene), but it is so ridiculous a comparison physically that I never gave it much thought. While re-reading this book recently, I can see how Hercule is like Hercules in some ways. People rely on both Hercule and Hercules in impossible situations and he uses his amazing powers to help them or to bring bad guys to justice. Of course, Poirot's powers are mental and Hercules powers are physical. And the fussy little Belgian is great at solving crime, but not so good at stopping it. Hercules actually does stop it sometimes.

Matching Hercule's twelve labors to Hercules twelve labors makes an excellent book which is really comprised of twelve standalone short stories. Each story is a bite sized chuck of mystery goodness that is ideal when one story is read right before bed time. Some of the story connections are a little bit tenuous - the Nemian Lion story turns out to be more about a dog than a lion, but that doesn't really detract. It makes it more amusing as Poirot himself is the one trying to match his cases to the tasks of Hercules.

This book was first published in 1947, and unlike much a of the literature of that time, it still holds my interest. Maybe it's because I love Poirot, or perhaps because Christie was an amazing writer. If you get a chance, I highly recommend that you read or re-read it.

The binding is separating a little from the cover.

I love it when these old books have maps and drawings on the back.

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