When Simeon Lee, a mean-spirited, tyrannical patriarch of a dysfunctional family, summons his offspring to his country manor house in Kent for Christmas, he employs Poirot to attend the reunion. The detective is not given a full explanation for his assignment, but he soon observes the palpable animosity, suspicion, and resentment among the three Lee sons. Also in attendance is the beautiful Pilar Estravados, the only surviving child of Lee's daughter, who recently passed away after living in exile in Spain. The ruthless Senior Lee, who made his fortune in the South African diamond fields, sadistically treats his progeny with deliberate cruelty and obviously relishes pitting one against the other. It comes as no surprise when the old man's throat is mysteriously cut in an apparently locked room, and although he was frail and wheelchair-bound, there appears to be evidence of a great struggle. Poirot is aided in his quest for a solution to the baffling mystery by Chief Inspector Japp and...Written by
Wildly unpredictable but unevenly paced Poirot mystery
The owner of a mining company, a rich old man with a guilty past, gets murdered in his own room, a few days before Christmas. The suspects: every member of his large family that had been assembled on the same house for the holidays. But there is another guest in the house - Hercule Poirot.
For anyone (like me) who hasn't read the Agatha Christie book adapted here, this must be one of THE most unpredictable stories Miss Christie ever wrote - and that's saying something! Your jaw may well drop to the floor when the murderer is revealed. Still, this episode is not 100% satisfying. The pacing seems uneven: too slow during the investigation process, and then too rushed during the revelations (we don't get enough scenes of Poirot piecing everything together). Two supporting actors stand out: Vernon Dobtcheff, who is so creepy as the old man you can see why everyone would want him dead, and Sasha Behar as the lively Spanish girl (with the sexy accent to boot - very good job for an English actress). (**1/2)
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