Review: Hallowe’en Party

In a small English town called Woodleigh Common, a young girl is murdered at a children’s Halloween party. Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, takes on the disturbing case in what will be one of his last adventures. 

Everybody in Woodleigh Common seems well-adjusted and friendly, and nothing terrible ever really happens there. The townspeople theorize that some mentally deranged stranger wandered into their little haven and turned their world upside down. Poirot and his friend Mrs. Ariadne Oliver aren’t convinced. They begin to uncover signs that the dangerous criminal might be found much closer to home, hiding in plain sight. 

The only question, then, is can they find and neutralize the threat before he or she can strike again?

*******

Agatha Christie’s classic murder mysteries are some of my favorite reads when I want something fun, easy, and just a little bit spooky. Her books, which only take me one or two days to read (three days, tops) are perfect for cozying up under the blankets with a cup of tea, especially on a night when the wind shakes the trees outside or cold rain batters the windows. And, I confess, they’re pretty handy for beefing up my yearly reading count!

Hallowe’en Party wasn’t one of my favorite Christie novels, but it still fit the bill. Christie’s prose is incredibly simple and succinct, which makes for a fast, easy read. Her books are certainly no literary paragon, but their simplicity allows readers to turn the pages almost as quickly as they could want. 

As with Christie’s other novels, readers will want to turn those pages quickly. Hallowe’en Party follows a predictable pattern, yet it kept me engaged, releasing clues like hors d’oeuvres at a party–just enough to keep me hungry for more. Christie convinced me that I had figured out “whodunnit”, only to blow all my theories wide open at the end with a few final revelations. 

Like most of the other Agatha Christie mysteries that I’ve read, Hallowe’en Party creates a thrilling, scary ambiance, without crossing the line (in my opinion) into the truly terrifying horror stories that are so popular today. The physical details of the murder are only described briefly and vaguely, and the general vibe of the story carries a certain lightness, decency, and justice. 
Hallowe’en Party isn’t one of my favorite Agatha Christie books. Murder of children, no matter how carefully done, pushes the envelope on my tolerance for disturbing things. The setting and circumstances of the murder were a little bit vanilla, as compared to And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express. The revelation of the killer, while a satisfying surprise, didn’t knock my socks off like some of her others do. However, Hallowe’en Party fills a craving for something easy, cozy, and just a little bit spooky.

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