The Hollow – Agatha Christie

The Hollow is an Agatha Christie book, starring Hercule Poirot, which should immediately notify you that it’s a good book. If it’s Agatha Christie, you get an immediate 6/10, and if it’s Poirot, it’s a direct 8. The character of the great detective in itself is enough to keep me interested in his stories for life.

Apart from that, the gripping story will make sure you do not rest until you’ve finished reading.

Yes, it’s a bit slow at the beginning by today’s standards, but if you look closely enough, even the start is gripping in its own way (however, I understand if you don’t want to look that closely). The beginning takes us through the lives of the various characters involved, and the relationships of the characters with each other. It cycles through six points of view, and here’s where it gets interesting.

This is something I’ve noticed only in The Hollow, probably because I’ve just begun to understand literature that way, but each of the six viewpoints has a different style, which corresponds to the character. For example, we start off with Lady Lucy Angkatell, the rich wife of a Baron. Her character seems to be disconnected from the real world, floating about, and that’s exactly how each scene that is written from her PoV is written. It seems out of place and wandering. However, when we switch to Dr. John Christow, we feel irritated. Dr. Christow is extremely irritable. The first vibes you get from him are “Jerk Alert!”. The language the scenes are written in make us feel the boredom of his routine life. And then, as we switch to the PoV of Hercule Poirot, we return to the distinguished, clean, and somewhat overconfident style that we know and love.

Apart from that, the story is absolutely gripping. There are little things that made me smile. Things like omens of death. The omens start from the moment the soon-to-be-murdered character is introduced. Everything they say and do inevitably point to his death. Knowing they were going to die made me smile, because I really hated that character. I would have murdered them, if I were a character in The Hollow.

Another thing that made me smile was the way Christie hinted out Poirot in the start. The book is set in the countryside, and the Angkatells are having a few of their friends over for the week-end. On that Sunday, Poirot was to come over for lunch. So, when Lady Angkatell tells her cousin Midge that he is coming over, she refers to him as “the crime man,” and “the little egg-headed foreigner who solves crimes.” I love when she does this, simply because I know instantly that Poirot is involved. Even though I started reading the book in full knowledge that Poirot was, in fact, involved, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that this guy is nearby. It’s sort of the opposite of a good villain in a story, who looms in the background of the story, and commands the action. This is a good hero, who has the command, and you feel safe in the hands of Papa Poirot.

Once you are past the slowness (i.e., once the murder has been committed), the story gets interesting, and quick. The murderer seems obvious, but since it’s a Christie book (and since there’s plenty more pages left in the book), you know it isn’t as obvious as it seems.

In the end, it’s no spoiler that there’s going to be a twist (what’s a detective novel without a twist?). It’s quite unexpected even though I suspected each and every character, singling them out as too obvious for Christie. Like always, she got the best of me, and I was left, curled up in my bed, marveling at the genius of a truly great author.

Rating: 8/10

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  1. Shruti

    Nice review! It makes me want to read the book and gives me a perspective that will keep me looking out for subtle stuff that I probably wouldn’t have noticed without having read a few Poirot stories first.

    I am not sure if this is possible but would you be able to provide a general age group/range for which the book is intended?

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