My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Absolutely classic Poirot. Mr Shaitana, a very wealthy but rather dubious character, invites eight people to dinner. Four people have a secret in their past, the other four are crime solvers. Poirot is one of the guests, along with Police Superintendent Battle, secret agent Colonel Race and Mrs Oliver, a writer of murder mysteries. At some point during the evening, in which the all guests play bridge but their host doesn't, Mr Shaitana is stabbed to death. But which of the four guests who were with him in the room at the time did it?
Poirot and the other three crime solvers decide to combine forces to get to the bottom of Shaitana's death. I don't know how autobiographical the character of Mrs Oliver was, but I loved the idea of a crime writer who has decided to make her detective a Finn, without actually knowing anything about Finland. She bemoans the fact that the Finns seem to be avid readers of crime novels and thus all her slips relating to his characterisation get pointed out and she wishes she had made him a Hungarian. :)
This is one of those murders where the victim is someone whom everyone dislikes and the descriptions of Mr Shaitana with regard to his nationality (which actually is rather vague) are of their time, but one can't hold the novels of the 1930s by today's standards.
I actually did work out who the murderer was, though for quite a lot of the book, I thought I was wrong after all. As should be the case with murder mysteries, it all wraps up tidily and the nice people prosper while the villains meet an appropriate end.
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