Performed by Hugh Fraser
Published by HarperCollins and released on Audible in August 2006
Category: Classic Crime, Murder, Mystery, Audiobook, Book Review
Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckly. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo.
Poirot has taken a particular interest in the young woman who has recently narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck.
The now retired Hercule Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings, over on a visit from his ranch in Argentina, have recently arrived at the Majestic Hotel on the Cornish coast and are enjoying the prospect of a relaxing weeks holiday.
They meet the young and pretty Nick Buckly, owner of End House, as they enjoy their first afternoon in the sunny gardens. During the course of the conversation it transpires Nick has had three recent experiences that could have resulted in her death. Poirot’s ears prick up immediately. When what appears to be a bee or wasp buzzes by Nick’s face but turns out to have been a bullet, it seems a fourth attempt has been made.
‘Did you observe the way Mademoiselle Nick flinched when a bee flew past? The bee in the bonnet—the hole in the hat.’
‘But a bee couldn’t make a hole like that.’
‘Exactly, Hastings! What acumen! It could not. But a bullet could, mon cher!’
‘Mai oui! A bullet like this.’
He held out his hand with a small object in the palm of it.
Retired or not, Poirot can’t let this one go and arranges to call on Nick later that afternoon. Nick is sceptical of Poirot’s conviction that someone is trying to kill her, nevertheless she takes his advice and asks her cousin to come and stay. Nick has a group of friends and relatives around her, all harbouring secrets that could be classed as potential reasons for wanting her dead.
Unusually, Poirot sometimes seems anxious about this case and annoyed with himself for not having his normal foresight. He makes a list of the suspects and their possible motives as he attempts to protect Nick from her would be assassin. It’s a confusing mystery and not only for the reader. Poirot seems positively stumped at one point and we see a different side to him as he becomes more emotional and distraught.
‘It is plain that you do not see. Almost incredible, my poor Hastings, how you hardly ever do see…’
There’s a marked lack of harmony between Poirot and Hastings in this story with snide comments bandied back and forth, which began to grate and seem less than humorous after a while.
‘Poirot,’ I said. ‘I have been thinking.’
‘An admirable exercise, my friend. Continue it.’