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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: The Labors of Hercules

Title: The Labors of Hercules
Author: Agatha Christie
Length: 8 hours, 48 minutes
Publisher: Harper Audio
Genre: mystery
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
In appearance Hercule Poirot hardly resembled an ancient Greek hero. Yet, reasoned the detective, like Hercules, he had been responsible for ridding society of some of its most unpleasant monsters.

So, in the period leading up to his retirement, Poirot makes up his mind to accept just 12 more cases: his self-imposed "Labors". Each would go down in the annals of crime as a heroic feat of deduction.

From what I understand, these stories were published in various magazines and sources and whatnot and then organized into this collection with the labors of Hercules theme.  Some of the stories are better than others, some are more cohesive than others, but this is one of the first Christie short story collections I remember reading and it was just as much fun to listen to this time around.

Rather than go through and summarize each individual story, I'll send you to the really well-done wikipedia page about the collection and move on to other things.  The only thread that connects each of these stories together is the Hercules theme, so you can read as many or as few of the stories as strike your fancy.

My favorite one of the bunch was "The Flock of Geryon," wherein Poirot enlists the help of, oddly enough, one of the guilty parties from a previous story to infiltrate a religious cult.  Turns out the character from that story (I'm not giving her name as that would be a spoiler obviously) is having trouble turning her mind from criminal enterprise to honest pursuits and figures helping with Poirot's investigations might help her sublimate her urges a little bit.  I liked this one because it felt so different from how a Poirot mystery usually turns out.  Usually you've got the stately old manor houses and high bred people wandering around doing the things they do and then someone gets murdered and it turns out everyone had a motive and an opportunity and the devil is in the details, and here it was more like a thriller, with suspected wrongdoings and bits and pieces of information from which a case had to be made.  Good stuff.

My least favorite one was "The Arcadian Deer," mostly for the reason that you just had to believe that things were the way that they appeared and the way that Poirot explained.  There wasn't any evidence to go back and double check, just a bunch of hunches that ended up explaining the mystery.  Not the best offering in my opinion.

The mythology reference and thread connecting all the stories also made me want to go dig out my collection of Greek myths and enjoy those again too.

This is another good book for a winter afternoon- lots to keep you interested and each story is short and sweet so there are lots of good opportunities for breaks.  Enjoy!

Overall Rating:

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