Recovering from the horrors of World War I, British Army officer Arthur Hastings hopes to find peace and quiet at a country manor in the English countryside. But when the matriarch dies during the night from strychnine poisoning, Hastings enlists the help of an old friend staying nearby with other war refugees to help solve the murder: former Belgian police detective Hercule Poirot. Written by
A picturesque version of 1917 in England is beautifully evoked -- lovely scenery, vintage cars, perfect costumes. Poirot and Hastings are good and the story is absorbing, at least at first. You need to be very wide awake, however, to keep careful track of the characters and events. Agatha Christie herself commented (I think in her autobiography) that she had perhaps overloaded this, her first book, with clues. In the book, you have time to take all this in and can look back if necessary. This TV version has to cram it in at fairly high speed. This - along with the technical nature of the poisoning - means that the average viewer has very little chance of working out how the crime was done. Another problem is that there are quite a lot of characters, some of whom get very little screen time. It was a commendable act of piety to make this film for the centenary of Agatha Christie's birth, but perhaps the book is not really suitable for dramatization.
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