Welcome to Masters of Mystery Monday, where each week we feature a fictional detective and examine his or her unique contribution to the mystery genre. You are invited to challenge yourself with a short detective quiz, and see the answers to the previous week’s quiz. This week:
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot
Hercule Poirot. The little Belgian. The “funny little man.” The detective who employed his “little gray cells” to catch murderers. Poirot appeared in Christie’s very first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). At the time of his creation, there were a great many refugees in Europe as a result of the Great War (and the one to follow), and Christie decided that a fastidious Belgian, a former Inspector of Police in his home country, would fit the bill nicely.
And it worked quite well. Poirot appeared in 33 novels and 51 short stories between 1920 and 1975. The novels are often narrated (though not always) by Poirot’s friend Captain Hastings. Several critics contend that in the early Poirot novels the foreign detective was better tolerated by British readers because this sidekick – Poirot’s “Watson” if you will – was so staunchly English.
For the uninitiated, start with The Mysterious Affair at Styles, then hit two of my favorite Poirot mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. A word of caution: if you tell anyone you’re reading one of these (especially The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), be prepared to stick your fingers in your ears and hum LOUDLY to drown out any comments a thoughtless bystander may make about the outcome. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the ugly consequences.
There is also the wonderful David Suchet television movies and episodes to enjoy. Here’s a clip:
Here’s the link, in case the video embed doesn’t appear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K89xgioWOWI
For more information, take a look at Hercule Poirot Central
Want the answers to last week’s quiz?
1. What was the profession of the Hardy boys’ father?
- detective – quite convenient for getting the sons involved in their father’s cases. It would have been much more difficult if he had been a plumber. (The mother was a housewife, by the way, in case anyone was wondering )
2. What percent cocaine solution did Sherlock Holmes inject when bored between cases?
R) 7% – since Conan Doyle wanted Sherlock around for more stories, and wanted him to be SMART, the first two choices were not in the running. Maybe he should have taken up Kakuro.
3. What was a favorite pastime of Nick and Nora Charles?
- drinking – it’s a challenge to find a scene in the films where drinking is NOT going on. A word to the wise: be prepared for overnight guests if you decide to make a drinking game out of watching a Thin Man movie. Just sayin’.
- making whoopee
4. This detective said: ”Warning. Assholes are closer than they appear.”
I) Charlie Chan
J) Sam Spade
K) Miss Marple
L) Ace Ventura – our favorite pet detective tells it like it is!
Be your own “Master of Mystery: take this week’s quiz!
1. Perry Mason was a lawyer-detective created by:
- G.K. Chesterton
- Dorothy Sayers
- Rex Stout
- Erle Stanley Gardner
2. The detective Nero Wolfe was known for:
- his obesity
- his reclusiveness
- his love of orchids
- all of the above
- none of the above
3. True or False: Agatha Christie went on archeological digs.
4. There was a mysterious incident in Agatha Christie’s life. In her early adulthood, she:
- was accused of murdering her first husband
- disappeared for 11 days and when she was found had no memory of the time
- had charge of the hospital pharmaceutical dispensary, in which a large quantity of poison disappeared
- was rumored to have an illegitimate child
Hope you’re enjoying the quizzes. So, who’s your favorite detective, either in film or books? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for joining me today. See you soon!