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Book Name: Elephants Can Remember

Author: Agatha Christie

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Overall Rating: (3.33/5) View all reviews (total 24 reviews)
Description

A classic Hercule Poirot investigation, Agatha Christie's Elephants Can Remember has the expert detective delving into an unsolved crime from the past involving the strange death of a husband and wife. Hercule Poirot stood on the clifftop. Here, many years earlier, there had been a fatal accident followed by the grisly discovery of two bodies - a husband and wife who had been shot dead.

Reviews

This story seemed to incorporate Agatha Christie herself, as a character.

by Amazon Customer
(5/5)

This was another new Agatha Christie novel I had never read or even heard of. It was a really fun read, and definitely offered a slightly different twist from the typical Agatha Christie novel. I really enjoyed it, and love that it's available on Kindle.


Classic Poirot...

by Angela Reads
(4/5)

I was intrigued by this case, and I had some idea of who the killer or killers were by the end. It is definitely one of the classic Poirot mysteries.


Poirot Relies on "Elephants" to Solve Long-Ago Mystery

by Antoinette Klein
(5/5)

Twenty years before this novel opens, a tragic double-death has occurred. Alistair Ravenscroft and his wife Margaret were found shot to death near their home. The deaths were declared suicides at the time. Now, years later, their daughter Celia is engaged to be married. Her future mother-in-law wants to know more about the cirumstances of the death and if the wife killed the husband or the husband killed the wife. She does not want some inherited proclivity to murder to affect her son. Celia turns to her godmother, Ariadne Oliver, who once again enlists the help of her old friend Hercule Poirot. Together they track down a list of "elephants," people with long memories who never forget past events. The officer who had been in charge of the case, a wig stylist, two French governesses, and a family friend each remember some piece of information that Poirot can collect and assemble as he uncovers secrets long buried and brings the truth to light.This is Mrs. Oliver's final appearance in a Christie novel and also the last Poirot book Agatha Christie wrote, although readers will see him again in "Curtain" which she wrote during the 1940's but was not published until 1975.


Elephants Can Remember provides four wigs, several elephants and an old murder mystery for Hercule Poirot to solve with genius

by C. M Mills "Michael Mills"
(4/5)

Dame Agatha Christie's penultimate Hercule Poirot murder mystery is "Elephants Can Remember." The 224 page book was published in 1971. The story includes Poirot's friend the mystery author Ariadne Oliver ( who bears a close resemblance to Agatha Christie).The book is narrated in the third person. It is always delicious fun when Poirot and Oliver join wits to defeat crime!Plot: Ariadne Oliver the famous crime novelist is attending a literary party. She meets the obesely odious Mrs Burton-Cox. This grand dame informs Ariadne that her stepson Desmond is planning to wed Cecilia Ravenscroft. Desmond is the son of Kathleen Fee who was the mistress of Mrs. Burton-Cox's first husband. Fee was a wealthy actress who has died leaving a large fortune to DesmondBurton-Cox wants Ariadne to investigate Celia' background. It is believed that Miss Ravencroft's parents committed suicide. Another theory is that Celia's father Sir Alistair Ravenscroft killed his much younger wife Molly or she murdered him. The murderer was then believed to have killed him/herself The unsolved case occurred some fifteen years prior to the novel's action.Ariadne refers to persons who worked or were otherwise acquainted with the deceased Ravenscroft couple as old elephants. This is because Oliver hopes those she interviews have good memories like elephants! Ariadne and her friend Hercule Poirot visit these characters hoping to learn more details about the murder/suicide. We learn of the romantic triangle involving Sir Ravenscroft and the twin sisters Molly and Dolly. Dolly has spent time in a mental institution. She was living with her sister and Sir Alistair at the time of the tragic deaths. Dolly is thought to have murdered a child in India as well as her son. Four wigs and a dog bite will clarify the crime.Though a very late Hercule Poirot novel I thought this entry in the Christie canon provides a good read. It is not one of her greatest mysteries but is a good solid read. Well done Dame Agatha!


Curious Case of Atypical Writing ...

by Commenter77
(3/5)

This a good story that was not properly edited before it was released for publication. Someone may know the circumstances around the time of its release who could shed some light on it. Christie has shown some undue repetition in her books over the years, seeming to overly repeat points, and perhaps would have done it more without some editing. Apparently, there was little to none done here, and that aspect almost ruins this book. She had the story outline in hand, good characters and playing out, but the relating of it was fraught with over-the-top redundancy. Besides that, some of the writing is actually trite and sophomorically mechanical. It's as if she was besieged with tasks at the time, had to meet the publication date and just shoved it to her publishers without time for them to work on it. Or, she had someone write it or parts of it with her notes and it just went out the door that way.The story harkens back to others similar in theme, that of digging up past events and involved parties to resolve an old issue the police could not at the time. They are done to bring closure to innocent parties on the threshold of their adult lives, and succeeded in doing that. However, each time, the interesting circumstances and persons involved created a fresh story with its own uniqueness.Again, this is a good tale, poorly told. I think you would have to have read a lot of Agatha Christie and maybe those other similar works to wade through, knowing she would deliver a good resolution. However, the writing is way below the standards I have ever experienced under her name, and would not have thought her capable of such a poor job. There are very amateurishly written portions, some meaningless sentences and a problem with flow that it would seem impossible for Ms. Christie to have written. A good, disciplined writer familiar with her works and her style could fix it. It would take a lot of work. There would have to be some cuts, rewriting of the transitional flow and almost all the dialogue redone. This was obviously a rushed job.???????


Egregiously Bad, Monumentally Boring, and No Mystery

by Faterson
(1/5)

This must be the worst Agatha Christie book ever. It's her very last Hercule Poirot novel, and one can see that the writer is very old by now (82). There is no freshness left in her prose; it is stale, predictable, corny, and generally trashy. As other reviewers have said, the material contained here would barely be enough to sustain a short story. To make a full-length novel out of this really is ridiculous. The book fails at what normally is Agatha Christie's greatest strength: the plot and the denouement. With dozens of pages left to go, the reader *knows* the solution! Unheard of in the world of Christie; if for nothing else, then for this the novel cannot be rated higher than 1 star. However, the characters and dialogs are boring and cliche-ridden as well, so the book has no redeeming qualities either. Nothing ever happens on the 200 pages of this book; no crime, no mystery, no real conflict among characters; it's all just endlessly boring talk, talk, and nothing but talk about the past. The only interesting thing, perhaps, is to contemplate the autobiographical hints Christie gives us in describing one of the novel's detectives, Ariadne Oliver -- a mystery writer. But these hints are only interesting because they throw light on our favourite writer, Agatha Christie -- they are not interesting in themselves and therefore do not improve the book's literary quality. It was excruciating to have to wade through the turgid prose of this book; this title cannot be recommended to anyone except extreme Christie enthusiasts.


Confusing murder in retrospect mystery

by Geert Daelemans
(3/5)

Celia Ravenscroft is but a little girl when both her parents commit suicide. Never did she worry about the real reasons for that dramatic event, until today when she stands on the verge of getting married to Desmond Burton-Cox. Only one question suddenly seems of importance: Who killed whom, Celia's father or mother? Reason enough for Ariadne Oliver, Celia's godmother, to pay a visit to her old friend Hercule Poirot. The famous sleuth persuades Mrs. Oliver to delve -with his guidance, of course- into the past, to find the persons who are like elephants, the persons who will still remember the important details about this all-but-forgotten tragedy.Elephants Can Remember is Agatha Christie's next to last work of detection and the author shows clearly signs of age, which is understandable since she was eighty-two years old and in failing health.Elephants Can Remember is a "murder in retrospect" mystery. Although Christie has proven to fully master this format -see Sparkling Cyanide and Five Little Pigs- she now quickly looses touch with the story. She is forced to sow the narrative together with vague memories of a series of old spinsters and suddenly even events that should easily be remembered are covered by the veil of forgetfulness. No surprise that the plot is total confusion. It is less a mystery than a scrapbook of memories. Action is less important than atmosphere, which makes the story quite tedious and difficult to hang on to. Nevertheless, the experienced reader will figure out the solution to this not too mysterious mystery halfway through the book.


Tediously disappointing

by Giant Panda
(3/5)

I found this late Agatha Christie novel disappointing compared to most of her earlier works. The plot line involves a murder mystery that happened in the past. Much of the novel is devoted to unraveling what happened through conversations with various people who knew the people involved. There is so much repetitiveness as the chatty Ms Oliver talks to all those people, hashes things out in her mind, then tells Poirot what she was told, then he hashes things in his own mind, then he tells others, ... Uh! The same "fact" or "theory" is repeated in many places, to the point of insulting the reader's intelligence. This is so unlike Christie where every word had its purpose. Perhaps one better think of this novel as a study of human memory. Overall I give it 2.5 stars.


A little slow

by Gretchen
(3/5)

I have read lot of Christie , and I found this book to be slower than most. It as also les interesting, in that I guessed the ending, which I usually don't do. As Christie books go, I wold call this one second shelf.


Ariadne Oliver's last case

by Jeanne Tassotto
(4/5)

Detective novelist (and Christie alter ego) Ariadne Oliver has been coaxed into attending a literary party, something she, like Christie, did not enjoy and avoided whenever possible. Mrs. Oliver's experience at this one would ensure that it would be a long time before she attended another. An overbearing woman, Mrs. Burton-Cox manages to corner the author cross examine her about her goddaughter, one of many Mrs. Oliver has managed to acquire through the years. And now that the young woman, Celia, is quite grown up, one with which Mrs. Oliver has quite lost touch. It seems that Celia and Mrs. Burton-Cox's son are engaged, or will soon be, and Mrs. Burton-Cox wants to know if Celia's mother killed her father or did her father kill her mother. Mrs. Oliver was quite shocked by the rudeness of the encounter and troubled about what to do about it so she contacted her friend, Hercule Poirot, for guidance in the matter. Soon the pair, each in their own unique way, begin to tackle the problems, re-establishing contact with Celia, investigating the old tragedy and finding out just why Mrs. Burton-Cox is so insistance on knowing the answer.For fans of Ariadne Oliver this is a particular treat, giving the reader more information into her (and perhaps Christie's) personal life, than any previous stories. It is interesting to see Oliver's and Poirot's different approaches to investigation, even to the point of different interpretations of what the actual problem is.This is not the cleverest mystery that Christie ever wrote, nor even the best written but it is a very enjoyable one none the less and is a definite must read for any Poirot or Oliver fan.


Dame Christie's Autobiography

by john purcell "johneric99"
(4/5)

Elephants Can Remember is Dame Christie's last Poiret full-length story according to most sources and written when the author was clearly playing the back nine. This is one of the few detective novels that even I could figure out who had done it and most of the methods long before the Belgian detective assembled the remaining characters at the scene of the crime.Some will say this is Christie's weakest product. I have not read them all so I will not make that judgement but it clearly suffers from a worn out plot and formulaic proceedings. We all know that elephants are claimed in nursery rhymes to never forget but this seems to be a revelation to Poiret and the aging writer Miss Oliver. As Christie's alter-ego, Miss Oliver is suffering the foibles of age, including total inability to recall anything or anyone, and stress over shortcomings in one's career, such as writer's block, and fear of crowds and public speaking.In a clever construct, both Poiret and Miss Oliver set out simultaneously to determine the relevant facts in a decade-old case of murder, suicide, or accidental death. Poiret warns all at the on-set that nothing good will come from this painstaking re-enactment but it seems there are always some things that daughters and odious in-laws need to know. Unfortunately for Miss Christie's reputation, she relies on a tired method of including twins in the mix so we all can see where this is going, especially when it becomes clear that the late husband had been in love with both twins.


Sad inability to escape the past

by JR
(4/5)

Poignant story contains more dialogue than action but does have one of Christie's best twist endings, which is also a real heartbreaker. Poirot and Adriane Oliver try to discover who killed who in a murder suicide and find out that the tragedy never really went away. A really good story for readers who like to listen to characters speak and recall their history. Plot seeking others might want to delve into Agatha's more exciting yarns for suspense. This one is mostly about the power of memory. I found it touching and quite involving.


Elephants Can Remember -- but this is one Christie mystery you'll be hoping to forget.

by kaduzy
(1/5)

I know Christie was pretty old when she wrote this book, so it pains me to be so negative, but her age really does show. The story isn't interesting, the mystery isn't mysterious and the characters are paper-thin -- even Poirot seems like a shadow of his usual self. The exception is Ariadne Oliver, who gets a remarkable amount of development for someone who ostensibly is just a side character. This is her final appearance in a Poirot mystery, and she gets an excellent send-off. The same cannot be said for Poirot. This is the final Poirot novel that Christie wrote, though not the final one that was published, since she wrote his real finale years earlier and set it aside to be published after her death. I haven't read it yet because I cannot bear to, so I'm saving it to be the last new Christie book I ever read. I just hope it's superior to this one!In this one, Poirot and Mrs. Oliver are trying to figure out what happened to the parents of one of Mrs. Oliver's god children. They were found shot to death in the woods, but what happened? Did the father shoot the mother or vice versa? Was it a suicide pact? Mrs. Oliver is asked to investigate by a woman she meets at a luncheon, then proceeds to go about interviewing a lot of people she hasn't seen in many years, to ask questions about what was happening in the family, to try and put the pieces together with Poirot, who is busy talking to the police. It's quite similar toFive Little Pigs (Also published as Murder In Retrospect), another Poirot murder in retrospect. The difference is that you'll be able to spot the solution to this one miles off, as I was. I can now say that about only three of her books (Peril at End House: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Agatha Christie Collection)andThe Mirror Crack'd (Miss Marple Mysteries)being the other two) and sadly, it doesn't make for a very interesting read. More annoying still is that in this book, a character writes to Poirot and tells him that in order to solve the mystery, he should find and interview person X, because she might be able to help them with the truth. And so after pages and pages of wasted time, Poirot finds and interviews X, and she KNOWS THE ENTIRE EXPLANATION TO THE MYSTERY. She is flown to England, she tells her story and then the mystery is solved. So tell me again why Poirot and Mrs. Oliver were even needed?! That guy could've talked to this character himself anytime he liked! Christie also employs a method I've seen her resort to in just one other book -- she has Poirot, the master detective . . . hire a detective! In lieu of actually writing plot development, she settles for pages of exposition as a man shows up and tells Poirot all the details he needs to know about a specific character. And she later turns out to have no bearing on the mystery whatsoever, so the entire interlude was a colossal waste of time. Normally I'd decry this as a lazy author's way to get out of writing an additional chapter of action, but in Christie's case I'm charitable enough to substitute the word "lazy" with the word "elderly," which makes the choice understandable if not forgivable.On the whole, I have to admit that I wouldn't even recommend this book to a die-hard Christie fan. But if you're dead set and determined to read everything she ever wrote, then go for it. I am too, so I can sympathize. Just be prepared to be bored and let down big time by this one. It's just not up to Christie's usual standards. Luckily, she wrote enough phenomenal, classic stories to be sure that her legacy would remain in tact regardless of what she published, and all Christie newbies can rest assured: it gets a heck of a lot better than this.


Poirot ponders the clues

by Karen Potts
(3/5)

Hercule Poirot's friend Mrs. Oliver has so many godchildren that she has lost track of them, and she has not thought of her god daughter Celia Ravenscroft for many years. She receives a visit from Mrs. Burton-Cox, a woman whose son wishes to marry Celia. She has a strange request--that Mrs. Oliver find out whether Celia's mother killed her father or vice versa. She does not reveal her reasons for wanting this information, but her request sends Mrs. Oliver right to Poirot who does much of the sleuthing for her. The two friends take separate paths in order to interview as many people as possible who can remember things from the Ravenscrofts' past. Mrs. Oliver dubs the witnesses as "elephants", people who will not forget important details which may help them solve the case. The mystery in this particular novel is not as difficult for the reader to unravel as it is in most of Christie's books, and that spoiled the fun for me a bit. Uncharacteristically the author reveals too many clues too early in the book, but it still is worth reading.


Secrets do tell. . .

by Kat
(4/5)

It began as an inquiry into the character of Celia Ravenscroft, someonethat Mrs. Ariadne Oliver is godmother to, but has not seen since she wasa child. The inquiry also brings about the murder of her parents. Didher parents kill one another? With the help of her good friend, HerculePoirot, Ariadne seeks to find out. Worth a read.


A barely mediocre mystery

by Michele
(2/5)

Elephants Can Remember was one of Agatha Christie's last mysteries; in terms of rating I would rank it as slightly below "satisfactory." While it is far from her best, it is not quite among her very worst, either.The weaknesses of Elephants Can Remember are several. First, there is a marked lack of action of any kind. Elephants Can Remember is concerned with an investigation into deaths that happened entirely in the past. Therefore, the whole book consists of conversations. There is never any danger or threat to anyone living, so there is no element of "excitement" as in most of Christie's other books.The second weakness that I would point out is that the solution of the mystery, as it were, becomes fairly apparent to the reader about mid-way through; the rest of the time is spent waiting for Hercule Poirot's amazing gray cells to figure it out and catch up to what the reader/listener already knows. The third weakness is that the solution to the mystery involved actions that I found entirely unbelievable. I won't expand any further than that so as to not spoil the story for anyone who hasn't yet read it, but Christie had a couple of characters behave in ways that were quite reprehensible, but that is never called into question. Her explanation for it, as it were, doesn't hold water.The only really excellent thing about this book is the narration.


50 years later, Agatha Christie still had it

by Miss Ivonne
(5/5)

Dame Agatha Christie wrote more than eight dozen mysteries in her lengthy lifetime, and Elephants Can Remember is nearly one of the last. But the old girl had lost none of her charm or wit in a novel that came more than 50 years after her first,The Mysterious Affair at Styles.An interfering busybody monopolizes the mystery author Ariadne Oliver (a delicious sendup Christie created of herself) at a literary luncheon about a 15-year-old tragedy in which an old schoolmate of Mrs. Oliver's and her husband died in what police presumed was a suicide pact. At the time of the tragedy, Mrs. Oliver had been on a book tour in America, so she had garnered what little information she had second-hand. But the long-ago deaths begin to trouble Mrs. Oliver. With the help of her old friend, detective Hercule Poirot, Mrs. Oliver begins to consult "the elephants" -- that is, older people who, like elephants, can still remember what happened decades ago.Elephants Can Remember provides a delightful puzzle for readers to unravel and -- better yet -- a glimpse into the remarkably romantic "Papa Poirot," who is so often eager to bring star-crossed lovers together (e.g.,The Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries),Sad Cypress, "The Arcadian Deer" and "The Horses of Diomedes" inThe Labours of Hercules: 12 Hercule Poirot Mysteries). Highly recommended.


Elephants Can Remember.

by Palma Rice
(5/5)

I gave this book a 5 star rating because of the collaboration between Hercule Poirot and his colleague, the famed mystery novelist. It was great fun to see Poirot and his friend untangle the web of crime and finally solve the case !!


For the Die-Hard Christie/Poirot Fan***PARTIAL SPOILER***

by Portianay "portianay"
(3/5)

It is quite obvious, early on in this book, that the author was advanced in years. The math is off, so badly, and so often, whenever the subject of years comes up: how many years ago did it happen? How old is so-and-so now? etc. Also, the only character who remains essentially himself is Poirot, pretty much; Ariadne Oliver, though only supposedly middle-aged here, is more muddled than most eighty-year-olds I know. Even the victims' ages: 60 and 35? Pretty unusual, that. If the wife/victim were only 35, why was she so worried about her advancing age?So, if the reader can get past all the muddle, it is still an entertaining read, IF, as I say, the reader is a die-hard fan. I am, so it was worth it to me.PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT: Christie's denouement of the crime is about as unrealistic as it can get. She really hearkens back to very early Christie, in her inability to understand, much less handle, romantic love in any sort of realistic manner.


ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER (DODD, MEAD, & COMPANY/1972)

by prospero72
(2/5)

REVIEW: Not exactly the best book to start with if you're curious about Christie; and her expertly crafted, wildly plotted crime novels. Still, "ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER" does have its charms and its moments of glory. The story concerns the murder/suicide of General Ravenscroft and his wife Margaret on a lonely cliffside at their house in Cornwall some twenty-odd years before the book's opening scene. Famed mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver (Christie's alter-ego) is approached at a literary luncheon by the overbearing presence of a Mrs. Burton-Cox who wants her to find out the truth behind the tragedy as it involves Mrs. Oliver's goddaughter, Celia Ravenscroft, who just so happens to be engaged to Mrs. Burton-Cox's son, Desmond. The reason why she wants the whole affair dug up is puzzling to Mrs. Oliver, and so she pays a visit to her old friend M. Hercule Poirot who (though at first reluctant) decides to help Ariadne uncover the truth about the deaths. The solution to the killings is sound (if trite), yet no where near as intriguing as Christie's other "murder in retrospect" cases. On top of that: the book rambles on too much and is too leisurely paced for a lengthy novel (as a short story it might have had more success). Still it's hard to dismiss "ELEPHANTS" as an all-out failure. It is flawed yet engaging, and the sheer joy of reading along with such wonderful characters as Ariadne and Poirot makes it all worthwhile. Alas, there is an excuse for Dame Agatha's slightly below par performance: after all the woman was eight-two-years-old and in diminishing health when the book was written.


What the Dog Noticed

by RCM "beckahi"
(4/5)

Elephants Can Remember does not read like a typical Hercule Poirot mystery. Agatha Christie's famed detective is drawn into an old case by his friend, the amateur sleuth and mystery writer Ariadne Oliver. The case involves what was apparently the double suicide of a loving husband and wife, and the concern that these past actions might have left a horrible impact upon their children.The story switches between the findings of Ariadne Oliver and Hercule Poirot as they each go in search of 'elephants' who might remember what happened around the time of the accident, because after all, an elephant never forgets. While there is no definite evidence as to what happened, there are those who have never accepted the double suicide theory because they couldn't answer the question why. But with Poirot and Mrs. Oliver working together, a long-unspoken truth is certain to be uncovered."Elephants Can Remember" is classic Agatha Christie, in terms of mystery. It's central mystery has a unique, if perhaps a little predictable, twist, the denouement of which is quite evenly paced and satisfactory. However, this might be one novel where the time period of the plot is more glaring than others. The prose is heavy-handed at times and one does get a little sick of all the mentions of 'elephants'. The characters are borderline two-dimensional and, therefore, the reader does not care about them, even if they are still interested in the mystery at hand.


We Are Human Beings, and Mercifully Human Beings Can Forget...

by R. M. Fisher "Ravenya"
(3/5)

It was with a certain sense of sadness that I read "Elephants Can Remember", knowing that it was the last book Agatha Christie ever wrote that featured the beloved characters of Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. Of course, there isCurtain, which stars Poirot and takes us to the end of his career as a detective, but this had been written several years prior in order to give Poirot a proper send-off and published after Christie's death.So this, for all intents and purposes, is one of the last Poirot mysteries, and certainly the last appearance of Ariadne Oliver, the mystery novelist that Christie often used as a self-insert to convey her own experiences and frustrations as an author. These would range from Ariadne's irritation with her literary protagonist (as Christie similarly held toward Poirot), to her habit of eating apples while she worked, to her bemusement at certain readers who would write to her in order to point out her mistakes. Here, she expresses her awkwardness concerning fans that gush excessively over her work.At a literary lunch Ariadne is approached by a compete stranger and asked a question about a godchild she hasn't seen in years. The woman who introduces herself as Mrs Burton-Cox asked Ariadne an incredibly personal question concerning her god-daughter Celia Ravenscroft's deceased parents: was it Celia's mother who killed her father, or Celia's father who killed her mother? It takes a while for Ariadne to remember the circumstances that she's referring to, but finally recalls that Alistair and Margaret Ravenscroft were found shot dead near their house, in such a way that made it impossible for the police to tell whether it was a double suicide or a murder/suicide.Ariadne discovers that Mrs Burton-Cox's son is engaged to be married to Celia Ravenscroft, and suspects that his mother is trying to form a wedge between the two of them by insinuating that Celia may have inherited murderous impulses from one of her parents. But Ariadne seeks out her god-daughter's permission to investigate the deaths further, and wanting to know more about her parents' demise, Celia agrees. Naturally, it is to Hercule Poirot that Ariadne turns, and together the two of them go on the hunt for "elephants."The witnesses are all elderly now, and it all happened so long ago, but Ariadne has faith in the "elephants" of the old saying; and Poirot agrees, believing that even little details and false assumptions may prove valuable. Together the two of them try to piece together the mystery of the past, in a book that relies heavily on oral testimony and the memories of those present.As a book written near the end of Christie's life, it's clear that she's slowing down. "Elephants Can Remember" has a few recycled concepts, several flat characters, and is one of only two of her books (thus far) in which I've been able to guess the conclusion far in advance. And trust me, if I can guess it, anyone can! There are lots of meandering speeches, some inconsistencies regarding the time-line, and many obvious details are held back simply because they would telegraph the ending too soon. Finally, solving the case has less to do with deduction than it does with finding the person who knew what happened all along.Yet there's a lingering presence of melancholy present that makes the story more important for its context than its content. Christie knew that she was nearing the end of her life when she wrote it, and so there's an emphasis on lost love, putting the past to rest, and young couples looking forward to the future with hope. Likewise, the fact that Christie may have been in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease brings certain bittersweetness to the fact that the novel relies so heavily on the importance of memory.It's rather sad to read, but impossible to dismiss if you are lasting fan of the author, especially since it's clear that Christie was getting ready to say goodbye.


If this had been a true-blue detective novel ...

by snowy "Lorne Vallen"
(3/5)

It could have been solved in half the time. But it is not, and to appreciate or understand this novel, readers must place it in the proper context.The problem was at first vague; Ariadne Oliver was asked by a stranger if the mother of Ariadne's goddaughter killed the father, or was it vice-versa. The deaths were actually some twenty years or more before. As the stranger was the mother to a man who was contemplating marriage to Ariadne's goddaughter, she could be partially forgiven for her apparent concern. Of course one of the things Ariadne did was to call on Hercule Poirot, and together they embarked on elephant-chase to pry for secrets from the past."Elephants can remember" was published in 1972, that is 52 years after the first Poirot novel "The Mysterious Affairs at Styles". Many people did not even live that long. Agatha Christie aged her characters along with the years, and therefore there were cases that were different from bodies being found all over the place.Other similar novels before this whereby Christie's detectives investigate deaths long in the past included Dumb Witness, Five Little Pigs, Mrs McGinty's Dead, Ordeal By Innocence, and Nemesis. The common theme among them was that the investigator(s) had to depend on memories of various people who might not even be present; but from their recollections, clues were found to provide either the definitive picture of the culprits or the definitive picture of the crime. What a lot of impatient readers would find irritating was having to sift through the useful information from the useless. Elephants is such another tale.Mystery veterans would probably have been able to jump to the solution before Poirot's grand finale, but would they have been able to unravel the threads in the manner necessary? Proofs have to be gathered, and evidence, motivation, etc were all the necessary persuasions for Elephants before they would give up their secrets.The meat and drink of this novel is more than solving the mystery of who killed who, but to recapture the atmosphere, the mood, the aura of that time in the past, and to be able to put events in their proper perspectives. Also no less important was Poirot's being able to relate the past (in its correct perspective) and its impact on the present in order for persuade the elephants to give up their secrets.


Old Sins Cast Long Shadows

by sweetmolly
(2/5)

This novel written in the twilight of Dame Agatha's long and illustrious career (1972) would have been better left on the cutting room floor. It was especially painful for me to read because I not long ago re-read her vibrant, lively and completely mystifying "Murder at the Vicarage" which was written in 1927. The comparison was depressing.Hercule Poirot is teamed with Mrs. Oliver, a crime novelist, to find the truth of a 15-20 year old murder/suicide. Mrs. Oliver's goddaughter, Celia is the daughter of the couple who supposedly entered this pact. For the first one-half of the book, we are not advanced an inch in any direction. Many people are interviewed (the "elephants" of the title) and most have vague memories of the couple, as does Mrs. Oliver herself. Mrs. O's dithering is not artlessly charming, for we are as confused as she. Saddest cut of all, the red herrings are not "herrings" at all. They are giant signposts. Rather than Poirot gracefully unraveling the mystery on the last page, the reader has left him in the dust 50 pages ago. The prose has a distinctly purplish hue.According to the publisher, "Elephants Can Remember" was originally published as "Five Little Pigs." I do not recommend this book, because it does not do Dame Agatha justice. There are 75 titles to choose that will far better reflect her abilities and why she earned the title "Queen of Crime."


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