Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

Murder in St Loo…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Hercule Poirot is making one of his periodic attempts at retirement, and has gone for a little break in St. Loo with his old friend Captain Hastings, home from the Argentine. But wherever that pesky man goes, murder is sure to follow! As he sits on the hotel terrace with Hastings, something whizzes past his head – not a pebble, as he first thinks, but a bullet, apparently having just missed its target, a young woman called Nick Buckley who lives in the End House of the title. Once Poirot has introduced himself to Nick, he discovers this is the latest in a series of what appear to be attempts on her life, and he takes on the task of finding the would-be murderer before he or she succeeds…

This has always been one of my favourite Poirots, which never seems to get quite the love I feel it deserves. I love the solution – one of Christie’s cleverest, I think – and the way that you can see in retrospect that she gave you all the clues and even drew attention to some of them along the way, and yet still left you – well, me, anyway – completely baffled right up to the reveal.

Nick seems to be a popular young woman, without an enemy in the world, and with no worldly wealth to provide a motive. But the attacks on her suggest that it must be someone close to her who is trying to kill her, so her little group of friends and neighbours come under suspicion. Poirot will have to find which of them has a reason to want her dead. But when someone else is killed in mistake for Nick, he feels guilty for having been unable to prevent that murder, and still fears Nick will be the next victim.

Although the story is quite serious and Nick’s friends are a motley and mostly unlikeable crew, there’s a lot of humour in this one in the banter between Poirot and Hastings. Poor old Hastings – Poirot really is extremely rude about his intellectual abilities! Nonetheless it’s often Hastings’ simplistic way of looking at things that puts Poirot on the right track. Sometimes Hastings bites back, but Poirot always gets the last word…

“Do you suppose I’d have made a success of my ranch out in the Argentine if I were the kind of credulous fool you make out?”
“Do not enrage yourself, mon ami. You have made a great success of it—you and your wife.”
“Bella,” I said, “always goes by my judgement.”
“She is as wise as she is charming,” said Poirot.

I listened to it again this time with the wonderful Hugh Fraser narrating – these Agatha Christie audiobooks have become a major source of relaxation to me during the last few months, always entertaining even when I know the stories so well. Fortunately I still have many more to go…

Audible UK Link
Audible US Link

48 thoughts on “Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

  1. It’s one of my favourites as well – I’m glad that the Poirot-Hastings humour is there, because otherwise I think that the general nastiness of the one-off characters would make it much less enjoyable. But I think the solution is very clever. Also, if memory serves, this contains one of my favourite Hastings character traits, which is him clutching his pearls at the very idea that a pretty girl/someone with an Old Etonian tie/a gentleman who owns many horses/whatever could *ever* be up to anything nefarious, and Poirot just rolling his eyes at him for being so ridiculous. It comes up in so many books, and it makes me chuckle every time.

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    • Yes, I think that’s one of the secrets of Christie’s success – that she always remembers to put in a bit of humour or an entertaining romance or something to lighten the tone. After all, we mostly read to be entertained, especially in genre fiction. Hahaha, you’re right, that does happen in this one! Hastings is such a lovely character – I always love the books he appears in best. I feel about him the way I feel about Watson – I admire Poirot and Holmes, but I’d rather go for dinner with their sidekicks… 😉

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  2. I haven’t read this but it is my favourite of the David Suchet as Poirot series. I really need to put my back into reading Ms Christie again, I had forgotten how much fun they are.

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    • I must re-watch some of the Poirots – they’re one of the best TV adaptations series of all time, I think. Suchet and Fraser were made for the roles, and no one else will ever be Poirot or Hastings for me. That’s why I love these audiobooks so much – having Hugh Fraser read them is perfection… 😀

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  3. I’ve always liked this one very much, too, FictionFan. I agree with you about how clever Christie was to give all the clues and still mislead. That takes a special skill, doesn’t it? I also love the interplay among Nick and her friends. There’s something about Freddie that appeals to me (couldn’t exactly say what), but I like the way Nick and Freddie interact. It’s a window on that time and place amongst that particular social group.

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    • Since I’ve been re-reading them recently I’ve noticed how often she does that – gives a list of all the clues just before the solution – a kind of last chance for the reader to work it out. I still hardly ever can though! Yes, it’s another take on the arrival of drugs as a social problem, and a kind of buttoned-up British take on the Lost Generation to some degree, isn’t it?

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  4. I haven’t come across this one, but it sounds delightful! After all, you really can’t go wrong with Christie, can you? She was such a master plotter, and I love the way she tied everything up neatly in a big bow at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I like that too. I often hear people praising books for not having all the loose ends tidied up neatly, but in crime novels I do want to have everything explained. Even after all these years, Christie is still head and shoulders above most crime writers out there…

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  5. Enjoyed your review. I reread this one last year as well. I enjoyed it but I like the Marple story with a similar plotline much better, I felt the characters there were more complex, and that has a few more twists as well. Which is not to say that I don’t like this one, but just not as much.

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    • Thank you! Now I’m trying to work out which Miss Marple that is – A Murder is Announced perhaps? In general, I prefer the Miss Marple books – I think Christie put more of herself into them, and allowed us to see inside Miss Marple’s head and how she perceived the world, especially as she aged. But for the audiobooks, Hugh Fraser is just so perfect at the Poirot books. Joan Hickson recorded some of the Miss Marple books and I love them too – once an actor has made a role his or her own, it’s hard not to see them as the character…

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      • That’s right. I think characters that had more complicated stories, and for whom we could feel more sympathetic also made a difference. A Murder is Announced is one of my favourite Marple books.
        I agree on Marple, I enjoy the Poirot books too, after reading/rereading the Marples chronologically some years ago with a book group, I began to appreciate the social commentary and changes in her character much better.

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  6. Now that I’m starting to do a few audio books, I need to see who narrates some of the ones available through my library app. So far, the only two books I’ve “read” have been narrated by the author.

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    • For me, since I still have to work hard at concentrating on audiobooks, the narrator makes all the difference, and I’ve found that often authors don’t make the best narrators. I hope your library app has these Hugh Fraser narrations – they really are wonderful! The Joan Hickson narrations of the Miss Marple books are great too. And anything narrated by Derek Jacobi is a joy… 😀

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      • I took your advice and have tagged three narrated by Hugh Fraser and one by Joan Hickson. I look forward to them! My first audiobook was Mobituaries narrated by the author, Mo Rocca. Considering it’s an extension of his podcast, it works will with him doing it. I’m currently listening to Tom Hanks narrate his collection of short stories, Uncommon Type. I really like him, so he’s making it better than I would probably have found it in print. They’re okay, but he might need to stick with his day job of acting. 😉

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        • I hope you enjoy the Christies – I’m 99.99999% sure you will! Ha, I fear whenever I read a book written by an actor or a journalist I usually end up thinking they should stick with the day job! The worst I listened to was Toni Morrison narrating Beloved – she spoke so slowly and in a kind of tone of monotonous misery that it bored me to tears. I abandoned it halfway through. It was years before I could bring myself to read a paper copy, only to discover it’s actually brilliant!

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  7. I love Hastings (or the Hastings / Poirot relationship) and someday I am going to go back and reread all the books with Hastings in them, in order. I do remember Hastings being my favorite part of this book.

    I have never listened to an audio book, but the Agatha Christie books have been recommended to me as perfect for that medium. So, maybe someday I will get to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the ones with Hastings too. The others are good but the Hastings/Poirot banter adds an extra level of entertainment. That would be fun to read them all in order. Although I’ve read most of the books several times, I’ve always picked them at random.

      I struggle with audiobooks – my concentration lapses. So I’ve found using them for re-reads works much better for me, since I already know the plot, and a great narration can make a well known book feel fresh again. And the Fraser narrations are undoubtedly perfect… 😀

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  8. So enjoyed reading this post – I’m another fan of the book and agree that it doesn’t get the kudos it should. And I’m not sure I’d make it through the pandemic without being able to listen to Hugh Fraser reading Agatha Christie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny how some of the books have become classics while others that are equally good tend to get a bit overlooked. Personally I prefer this one to Murder on the Orient Express, for example. Yes, there was a point during the pandemic where I just couldn’t get into actual books at all, and these audiobooks, and the Joan Hickson narrations of the Miss Marple books, have been a life-saver… or at least a sanity-saver! Thanks for popping in and commenting. 😀

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  9. Strangely I picked up my paperback copy of this book just a few days ago and gave up after page 2 when I realised I had seen it umpteen times on TV. I’m now wondering if I should have carried on reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must admit that’s why I’m enjoying the audiobooks so much. I’ve read the paper copies so often, not to mention TV adaptations, that I’d kind of reached a point of not getting the same enjoyment out of re-reads. But Fraser’s narrations and Joan Hickson’s of the Miss Marple books are so entertaining they make the books feel fresh again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I read them all so often when I was younger that I know my favourites pretty much off by heart now, so a good adaptation or an excellent narration is brilliant for making them feel fresh and new again! Yes, she is – Christie doesn’t get much credit for her characterisation but she’s actually created lots of really good ones…

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    • I still find it hard to concentrate consistently with audiobooks, so listening to books I already know well works better for me than trying to listen to a complicated new-to-me novel. And these Christies are perfect – the Fraser ones for Poirot, and the Joan Hickson narrations of the Miss Marple books… 😀

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  10. This is one of Christie’s best twists I think, I certainly didn’t see it coming. It is probably one of the stories I would be most likely to recommend to people as a starting point for Poirot, as it is a good introduction to the dynamic between him and Hastings.

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    • I remember being wowed by the twist the first time I read it, and even though I know it so well now I still appreciate how cleverly she misleads the reader. You’re right – this would be a great starter. I usually recommend Death on the Nile for Poirot, but its one downside is that Hastings isn’t in it.

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    • I can’t remember for sure which one I read first, but it may have been Death on the Nile. She’s probably given more people more pleasure than just about any other writer… 😀

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  11. Agatha Christie is one of my all time favourite author… I have read a couple of books by her and I’m looking forward to read more of her books. I read a lot of thrillers but the best thing I like about Agatha Christie is that her books are light, quick read and I’m able to finish it in one sitting… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • She really deserves her reputation as the Queen of Crime! Unlike a lot of modern crime writers, she never forgot that crime fiction should be entertaining. I like that there’s always some humour or a touch of romance to lighten the books up, without ever getting in the way of the plots. I hope you continue to enjoy her! 😀

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