In Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver is disturbed to be cornered at a writers’ luncheon by an odious woman demanding information about the young woman her son wants to marry, who happens to be Mrs. Oliver’s goddaughter: Did her mother kill her father, or did her father kill her mother? Consulting with Celia Ravenscroft, the daughter of the dead couple, Mrs. Oliver approaches Hercule Poirot for help in getting to the truth of the case, not for the sake of the future mother-in-law, but for her own sake.
Teaming up, the pair decide to seek out “elephants,” or people who were around a decade earlier, so nicknamed because elephants live long lives and never forget. Poirot consults his own colleagues to gain professional understanding, and Mrs. Oliver tracks down her old friends who can share bits and pieces of knowledge with her, but none fully reliable. So her and Poirot’s jobs involve both collecting data and determining its veracity. In the midst of all this, Poirot finds two pieces of evidence that leads him to the sad conclusion that speaks of real love.
This book is one of the darkest Poirot books and even Christie books. The case at the core of the story speaks of tragedy, and not even the presence of Mrs. Oliver, probably my favorite character in all of Agatha Christie’s books, can do much to cheer up rhe book. In addition, all the searching through the past gets tiresome. Out of the six Poirot books in which Mrs. Oliver appears, four (Cards on the Table, Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, Hallowe’en Party, and Elephants Can Remember) deal directly with digging up the past. The other two (Dead Man’s Folly and Third Girl) reach into the past as well.
David Suchet narrates the audio version of this book. He carries out his performance in a strong manner. His voices for the characters suit them well, and he matches the tone of the book well. His narration helps me enjoy this dark book better than reading it visually would do.
Though not the final Hercule Poirot book to be published, Elephants Can Remember was the last Poirot that Agatha Christie wrote. Her later books lost some of the imagination and delight of the earlier books. I give this book two stars.
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