A psychological mystery, this Hercule Poirot story presents lots of character dissecting. Poirot himself doesn’t appear much, but in isolated moments, especially at the end. The mother, Mrs. Boynton (who is constantly described as an enormous “buddha”), is diagnosed as a “mental sadist” by eminent French psychiatrist, Dr. Gerard. He and young doctor Sarah King (who is never referred as “Dr.” but “Miss King”) represent the “sane” and observe and analyze the dysfunctional Boynton family, allowing the reader loads of information about the characters involved in the mystery, yet not preparing him for the very surprising ending. (Incidentally, the two film renditions of this story have been almost completely denuded of the psychological tension Mrs. Christie was able to impart to her story.) A fast and excellent read.
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