I just finished reading The Hollow by Agatha Christie, my first Agathe Christie book in approximately a year and half maybe? It was solid, nothing too special, but also nothing too disappointing.
Spoilers ahead for those who wish to read the book. Skip ahead if you wish to not be spoiled.
It was an interesting story with a lot of character development before the actual murder takes place. It seemed to focus a lot on the intricacies of human interaction and a lot less on the grand reveal that has been seen in her other stories. The “grand” reveal comes only 1 chapter before the end of the entire book and we are robbed of justice as Gerda Cristow(John’s wife and murderer) accidentally commits suicide trying to kill her accomplice.
During the investigation there were many possible suspects all with semi probable motives/opportunity. I even mentioned to myself before I knew who would be murdered that John had 4 people who wanted him dead for various reasons. To set the scene, John Cristow was shot in the chest around noon, laying beside a swimming pool with his wife standing over his body with a revolver. Four different people including Hercule Poirot happened upon the scene at virtually the same time, and the general snobbery of the houseguests made them all assume it was Gerda because she is stupid/slow/caught red handed.
This results in the investigation being very promising in a multitude of ways before it peters out to nothingness, as Gerda intentionally feigned lack of self awareness for innocent reasons, that happened to play into this relatively impulsive act of murder. It turns out that John’s lover Henrietta Angkatell (John’s lover) was told to protect Gerda as John’s dying wish before everyone else got there, and she was the mind behind the various weird happenings that were the driving force behind the multiple potential suspects. It also turns out that the gun that Gerda was holding was in fact not the gun used to kill John.
The key in this which allowed Poirot to solve the mystery was that while everybody else had some aspect of the case that looked bad/implicated them and made them suspicious, Gerda coincidentally was suspiciously clean of any circumstantial evidence against her the entire case. In fact the way Poirot finds a smoking gun is essentially just catching Henrietta meeting with Gerda to try and dispose of evidence and getting caught whilst doing so.
I didn’t think it was her, I was pretty confident in my assessment that it was Lucy Angkatell because she acted very weirdly I thought during the whole case, specifically that it really didn’t bother her that someone was murdered during her care and that she didn’t humanize people and was sort of in her own world it seemed. It turns out that was because she knew who the murderer was, everyone did, she also knew the motive and was just the kind of person that didn’t particularly care that much about that sort of thing.
I do think it does make sense for it to be Gerda but I’m also slightly let down that it is because the opportunity and motive become very boring because of it. She had every opportunity as she was alone there with the body with everyone as a witness, and her motive was simply that she was shown that he was not who she thought he was and she murdered him for it. I have to be on my toes with Agatha Christie because she is incredibly clever, but it does seem that she tends to have rather brilliant solutions consistently, but not always executed perfectly.
I think the idea of this story would work better as a shorter story, rather than a full length novel, because you can still show the essence of the story without drowning it in unnecessary detail and subterfuge. The wife being the primary culprit and being exonerated prematurely is not a unique idea, but the lover helping cover HER crimes and the suspicious lack of circumstantial evidence being key to uncovering the true nature I think are a good twist that work better in a faster paced story. It would also make the smoking gun of catching them disposing of evidence be more satisfying if there was relatively short time frame of the story compared to the multiple days/weeks? of the novel.
All in all, I enjoyed the book but it would not be my first suggestion to someone for Agatha Christie Novels. I seem to be taking longer and longer to put out blogs but I had a good excuse this time, I had a personal issue so I wasn’t feeling very up to the task but now I am feeling a little better so hopefully I will post more often. I tend to write these when I feel a burst of inspiration so I won’t set in stone what I want to write about but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.