It has been some time since I discussed the little fussy Belgian detective or his creator with my last article about either being my review of the audio for The ABC Murders quite some time ago. But this is somewhat different. As opposed to reviewing one of Christie’s original mysteries or one of her so called ‘Christie for Christmas’ stories I will be reviewing a special book written for the centennial of Hercule Poirot himself.
The Greatest Detective In The World by Mark Aldridge is a book which discusses every aspect of Poirot’s extensive history from the original novels and short stories which make up the Christie canon, to various stage plays by Agatha herself and others, portrayals on film, television and radio and the character’s recent return through books written at the express request and blessing of the Christie estate.
In many ways this book feels similar to my last review topic although written with a different focus. Much like Nobody Does It Better, Aldridge writes sections on each book or adaptation allowing you to see behind the curtain so to speak. In his case he uses a combination of his own opinions, private correspondence between Christie and several others and reviews of the period to discuss each individual topic. Be it a novel that has been universally regarded as a classic, the begrudging attitude towards many short story collections, the original derogatory reviews of certain films now thought of fairly fondly or the interesting behind the scenes history of the David Suchet TV adaptations among others.
The audiobook is well written with each section being easy to understand and enjoy both on their own merits and collectively as a whole. I found the audiobook in general very easy listening and the information within quite enlightening. It was very interesting in particular to hear Christie’s own opinions about her own work and slowly hear about how certain views of hers changed over time as well as hearing about Black Coffee, Alibi, the very early Poirot films and certain other Poirot projects that were made exclusively for the American market on the proviso they never made it to Britain. It is fascinating to see the evolution of Poirot, Agatha herself and the adaptations from his original appearance in 1920 to now in 2020. It is clear that this book was originally written both for the centenary and to tie in with the original intended release date of Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Death On The Nile adaptation.
When it comes to narration the audiobook is served very well by Clare Corbett. An individual who has been a narrator for several audiobooks including The Girl On The Train and some releases by Jojo Moyes among others. Corbett’s voice and narration are calm, relaxing and very easy to listen to. Her voice for Christie when reading the correspondence fits wonderfully. I’d certainly be quite enthusiastic if I was to hear her narration again elsewhere.
I highly recommend both the original book and its audiobook. I went through all eleven hours in two days which should give you some clue as to just how much I enjoyed it! It was certainly enjoyable to return to the world of large country houses, extensive global holidays and unexpectedly brutal murders in appropriately upper class settings.
I hope I can persuade some of my readers to join me on this journey through the history of Dame Agatha, a certain moustached Belgian, Captain Hastings and the various cases in her canon.