I used to keep a copy of every book I had read. If it was a borrowed book, I would keep the title in mind and try to acquire a used copy later. This habit of mine eventually led to a serious book clutter problem, hence the Great Library Purge (GLP).
Now, I write about each finished book as a reminder of how I felt about it. This activity helps me part with (or never buy) the mediocre-to-bad books, and provides a justification for my ownership of the good ones. Writing these “reviews” is part of my GLP process, an important part of how I maintain my library at a manageable size. Someday, when we build bookcases downstairs, I can let my collection expand, but for now I must keep it under control. That’s why, even though my husband thinks it’s a waste of time, I have to write about every book I read. I try to write my opinions fast and keep them short, though, so that I don’t spend too much of my limited time resources on them.
Now let me get to the point: my opinions about two of the books I read earlier this year.
Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
The devilish (and aptly named) Mr. Shaitana thinks he knows everyone’s secrets. In his vanity, he plays a deadly game: invite four experts on crime and four murderers (all of whom got away with their crimes) to a party together and see what happens. He or she who has murdered before is likely to do so again, so a dead body is almost a guarantee. But Hercule Poirot, with the aid of the other three crime experts, will make sure the murderer is caught this time.
I particularly liked the character of Ariadne Oliver (who, as I recall was also in Hallowe’en Party). She is a writer of mysteries, and a hysterical one at that. On the downside, one problem that I had while reading this book is that I have absolutely no understanding of bridge (the card game). Someday I must learn to play it! Also, I found the ending (multi-layered to keep the reader guessing) a little forced, but overall I think Cards on the Table is an enjoyable read.
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
This is a collection of short stories. The best is perhaps “The Chocolate Box,” because it is the story of Poirot’s one failure (at least the only one he admits to). In the introduction, Hastings asks Poirot if he had ever made a mistake.
“You ask if I have ever made the complete prize ass of myself, as you say over here? Once, my friend—” A slow, reflective smile hovered over his face. “Yes, once I made a fool of myself.”
Of course, his investigations eventually lead him to the correct answer, but he had to be told who committed the murder. How that must have galled him! I love it! Poirot Investigates is probably worth reading just for this little gem.