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May 15, 2017 | by  | in Books |
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Cards on the Table — Agatha Christie

Cards on the Table knows exactly what it wants to be. At the start of the book, Christie immediately informs the audience that there are only four suspects.

The case is straightforward. At a dinner party during a game of bridge, the host of the party is mysteriously murdered. The four people in the room become the suspects and each one has an equally believable alibi. The other four party members become the “detectives”, and from there the book branches out as the detectives investigate the past of each of the suspects and find further mysteries in them.

The key is psychology. The only clue the detectives have to go on at first is the bridge game, which can explain what sort of person the killer is. A lot of care seemed to go into crafting the culprit, and while they might not necessarily be the greatest of Hercule Poirot’s foes, they are certainly a psychologically interesting one.

Arguably the most important thing in this book is the introduction of Ariadne Oliver, a stand in for Christie herself. Ms Oliver gives the reader some insight into Christie and gives the book greater depth.

Do not expect much drama until the third act. Additionally, knowing the rules of bridge can help in understanding many of the discussions. The writing itself is solid and there is a fair amount of humour.

A solid mystery (one of Poirot’s best, and hardest, cases), fun interactions, and character depth make for a great read. Though it won’t be remembered as much as some of Christie’s other works, it challenges the reader in a brash and upfront way that few others dare. And it should be said, as a rare (for her time) example of a female author of detective fiction, Christie is worth reading.

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