The Clocks

Rating: ***
The Clocks by Agatha Christie has a huge cast that is just 'mentioned'. What I mean is that a lot of known characters from various novels are mentioned in this novel. Both Hastings and the crime writer Ariadne Oliver are mentioned. Poirot also refers to Miss Lemon. George, Poirot's valet features in this novel, along with the great detective himself. Finally, we have The Young Man in Love With One of the Woman Suspects (see my Agatha Christie page), Colin Lamb, who is hinted as being the son of one of Poirot's old friends; he is a major figure in the novel. With so many characters, you'd think the mystery would get lost somewhere in between.

Wilbraham Crescent, The Cavendish Secretarial Bureau, and a secret service agent - all are tied up with the mysterious happenings in house No. 19. On a certain day, they all unexpectedly collide when Sheila Webb comes screaming out of No. 19 straight into the arms of Colin Lamb. Apparently, she has seen a dead body.

The authorities hit a wall at the first step: the identity of the dead man. Till they can figure out who he is, Inspector Hardcastle and Colin Lamb have nothing to go upon. It's then that Colin Lamb brings his old friend Hercule Poirot onto the case.

Because of the apparent complexity of the case (four superfluous clocks are found on the scene; hence the title) Poirot is sure that the mystery itself must be exceedingly simple - they're just missing the obvious. When we get past the major thing blocking our advance: the dead man, it becomes what it is - a murdered man who is stripped of his identity with the killer sure he would not be easily identified. We get so caught up in the finding the identity that we, like the Inspector, don't wonder why it was so necessary to hide it!

Spoiler alert!
There were so many coincidences in this book! Sheila Webb is sent to the house where the murdered body lies; it also happens to be the place where her mother lives! A mother who gave her up when she was born. But that is not where it stops; the mother is also the very criminal master mind Colin Lamb had been searching for when he runs into Sheila Webb screaming out of the house (only he doesn't know it).

For people who know Agatha Christie inside-out.
Other things I noticed in The Clocks were too many near hits which turned into misses: people not recognizing faces, other people not recognizing a pattern - both things which could have helped solve the case faster. Then, I noticed a lot of repetition in this novel. Agatha Christie reused many of her devices e.g. a girl with a slow thinking process who has seen or "not seen" something (as the case may be) and hence ends up getting killed (happened in The Moving Finger). I think I'm noticing this because of reading too much Agatha Christie. I'm gonna have to stop awhile.

No comments: