Finished After the Funeral by Agatha Christie. I received a copy from the publisher.
Summary (from Amazon):
“The master of a Victorian mansion dies suddenly – and his sister is convinced it was murder…When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say: ‘It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?’ In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.“
This is the third (of four) books in Harper Collins’ readalong of Agatha Christie’s novels. (The next and last one is The Monogram Murders, a new Hercule Poirot novel written by Sophie Hannah.)
This is easily my favorite of the ones we’ve read so far. I loved the concept and the fact that pretty much every single person was a suspect for one reason or another. (No, I did not guess the killer—I’ve not guessed the killer in any of the three so far, which makes me cranky.)
These books are so fun and I’m just incredibly grateful for Harper Collins for doing this so that I could finally read some of Agatha Christie’s books. I’ve gotten a few others (including Murder on the Orient Express) and I plan on getting The Body in the Library so that I can meet Miss Marple.
Note: this new edition has an introduction by Sophie Hannah.
And now to the questions! :)
1) From the beginning, there is tension among the surviving Abernethie family. Despite being bound together by name and blood, there doesn’t seem to be a strong connection amongst the different generations. Did you sense a motive for murder or suspect someone in the group early on?
I thought it was Gregory. I would have placed a lot of money on that.
2) It was noted early on that Helen Abernethie felt something was strange during the will reading. Were you ever able to guess what it was she sensed? Once the murder plot is revealed, it becomes clear that the answer was there from the beginning.
Nope. It wasn’t even one of those cases where it dawned on me right before we were told. I can never guess the outcome of a Christie mystery.
3) Name some of your favorite red herrings, as there are quite a few. To get you going, I enjoyed the reoccurrence of nuns. I knew they had to have some significance, as nothing can just be a coincidence.
The nuns! I was pretty sure that they weren’t really nuns (because how hard would it be to dress like a nun?). That was by far my favorite.
4) The will was split fairly across Richard’s relatives and each had their own reason for needing the money. Did you ever once consider Cora’s murder to be separate from Richard’s?
No. I thought they were obviously connected, even if only because she knew that Richard was murdered and the murderer got twitchy.
5) Some of the family members (by blood or marriage) acted truly deplorably—there was the house-bound Timothy, the beautiful but vapid Rosamund and her cheating husband Michael, and Susan’s husband, Gregory who was outed as a mental patient. I half expected Helen to have her own dirty secret (which really wasn’t all that bad once revealed). Did you consider any of them for the murderer?
Gregory. I hated that guy and was sure that he would do it. (I never really liked any of the people, but I was so confident in Gregory. I should’ve known better because I think he was the obvious choice.)
6) In Sophie Hannah’s introduction to After the Funeral, she discusses the Christie-concept of “nontransferable motive,” meaning a motive that no other murderer in any other crime novel has had or will have. Do you think that applies to After the Funeral? What do you make of a “nontransferable motive?” Does this apply to other Christie mysteries?
I like the idea, but I could see a lot of the people killing for the same reason (namely money). I think it applies to other Christie mysteries ( and really to mysteries in general). I loved that we got an introduction from Sophie Hannah and I’m very eager to see her take on Poirot.
7) This was my first time reading After the Funeral, and I couldn’t help but think this had all the components of a classic Christie mystery. What are some of those elements?
Red herrings and people being much more than they appear to be. (Although Rosamund was about as dumb as I thought, unlike the wife in Dead Man’s Folly.)