Early Christie

As Christies go, The murder on the links is a pretty good one. An early Christie, it was first published in 1923, the second in the Poirot canon following The mysterious affair at Styles (1920); it goes rather nicely with Curtain : Poirot's last case In Curtain the recently widowed Hastings is struggling to come to terms with his grief at losing his beloved wife (although there is a hint of romance at the end). In Murder on the links, he meets "Cinders" for the first time, and the reason for Hastings' departure to Latin America is explained.

For any lover of Christie's oeuvre, that's a good enough reason to enjoy this novel, but actually it's an extremely well-constructed read with a most unlikely villain, and red herrings aplenty. There's a jaunty continental air to the work, Poirot is surprisingly spry (he even manages to climb a tree); while the "little grey cells" are as good as ever.

Many elements that Christie would re-use are tried out here for the first time - the letter that arrives too late for the detective to fulfill his function, old crimes revisited, and that sleight of hand that would become Dame Agatha's trademark. It may not be one of her very best novels, but it's not far off the mark. A must read for any lover of golden age detective fiction.


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