In Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, Hercule Poirot arrives for lunch at an estate next to the country house where he has been staying, only to discover in disgust that the family has greeted this famous detective by staging a murder hunt for him to solve. But wait. This is not just a charade. The victim really has been shot, with a woman who proves to be his dim-witted wife standing over him with a gun. But what seems like such a straightforward case keeps getting more and more complicated, starting with the discovery that the gun Gerda has been holding over Dr. John Christow is not the murder weapon.
Poirot and the police force look into the various potential suspects, with each one seeming indicated in turn. This book actually spends the first third or more getting to know the characters before Poirot makes his appearance. Though each character has a connection to the next, the relationships hinge around the love interests of John. He has his dull, rather downtrodden, wife, Gerda. Then there is Henrietta, a sculptor who has been in love with John all her life even though she only began a true affair with him six months earlier. However for years agree has kept refusing to marry Edward because of John, even though he is known for having had a string of mistresses over the years. The final woman in John’s life, Veronica Cray, was John’s original love, but the two split up when Veronica expected John to give up his career as a physician to be Veronica’s arm candy in a career in Hollywood. She shows up for the first time in years and expects yet again for John to abandon his life for her.
This book in particular does a great job of developing realistic characters whom we tend to get invested in. The hostess of the weekend, Lucy Angkatell, seems to be a bit of an airhead, wandering into people’s rooms before they have gotten up, continuing conversations with them that she has begun in her head on her way to their rooms, totally confusing everyone. The sharp and clever Henrietta assists Poirot with his investigation. Or is she instead interfering?
The audio version is performed by Hugh Fraser, who once again keeps the book lively.
The Hollow is written with great creativity, with the characters coming to life enjoyably and the plot carrying many interesting angles. I give this book five stars.
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