“The gardens of the hotel lay below us freely interspersed with palm trees. The sea was of a deep and lovely blue, the sky clear and the sun shining with all the single-hearted fervour an August sun should (but in England so often does not) have.”“Peril at End House”, by Agatha Christie
The August theme for the #ReadChristie2021 reading challenge is very appropriately “a story set by the seaside”, and for this I have chosen one of my favourite Poirot stories – “Peril at End House”.
This story finds Poirot and Hastings on their holidays at a hotel in Cornwall, with Poirot determined to take a break – even to the extent of turning down a case from a high-ranking member of parliament. But all that changes when they meet Nick Buckley – a modern young lady, and impoverished owner of the nearby End House, whose life is attempted right under Poirot’s nose. It soon becomes clear that this isn’t the only possible attempt on Nick’s life, and Poirot determines to keep her safe and get to the bottom of the seemingly motiveless attacks. Why would anyone want to kill Nick, when she has no enemies and no money to leave?
“‘Three near escapes from death in three days. That is what she said. We must act quickly, Hastings. The peril is very close at hand.'”“Peril at End House”, by Agatha Christie
What follows is one of Agatha Christie’s particularly ingenious plots, involving missing wills, transatlantic airmen, and secret love affairs, which all comes together into a very satisfactory reveal at the end, with the culprit getting a particularly well-deserved unmasking. The ever-faithful Hastings makes one of his inadvertent comments that helps Poirot crack the case, and we even get a quick cameo at the end from Inspector Japp, although as usual he doesn’t add much to the investigation!
Although I’ve read this many times, I think it’s a great one for a re-read, as the second time round gives you the chance to pick up all the clues that should have been obvious the first time! A great summer visit to the English seaside.