This book went on forever. Past the point of anything making sense with so many things thrown at the reader I was past the point of keeping straight anything that was happening. It was a relief when the end came just because I was heartily sick of reading this book at that point. The only saving grace I really found was that we had Poirot in this book from beginning to end and not just his usually "spotlight" appearances in the book.
We begin with Hercule Poirot being visited by Superintendent Spence who believes that the wrong man (James Bentley) was tried and convicted for the murder of Mrs. McGinty. Spence is worried that he is sending an innocent man to his death and induces Poirot to investigate for him.
Poirot goes to the local village and begins stirring things up after he starts visiting the late woman's employers. It was interesting to see Poirot in a village and lamenting about home miserable he was, but that was interesting for all of five minutes. Poirot whined incessantly. I don't know if it because I have the character of Poirot tied up with David Suchet's portrayal or what, but I initially loved this character. However, after reading so many books, I heartily dislike Poirot a great deal.
I was a fan of Miss Marple except in one case (Nemesis) and the further I go with Poirot I am flummoxed how anyone would go to him to do anything. He doesn't seem to come to deductions as much as he just asks a lot of questions to see if he can force a reaction out of people.
There are so many other characters in this book it was trying to keep them all straight. We have the re-appearance of Ariadne Oliver (Cards on the Table) who is still freaking aggravating. I know that Mrs. Oliver was styled along the lines of Agatha Christie (she writes mystery novels) but she just runs around sticking her nose in where it's not wanted and actually doesn't do anything at all, unlike the role she played in Cards on the Table.
The character of James Bentley is despised by Poirot because he is a man who has been run over by his now deceased mother and doesn't seem capable of anything without a woman telling him what to do. He doesn't even sound attractive, yet he has a potential for two love interests in this book. Yeah I laughed for a while at that one.
I really can't speak much about the writing, it is typical Christie. The flow was bad in this one. Due to the number of suspects and possibilities of who people are I found myself having to stop and re-remember who certain people were and where they were at certain times. I finally decided to stop trying to figure out who did what and just get to the end.
The setting of the village for this one from beginning to end was marked by many as being typical for Miss Marple (which it is ) and not really something that Poirot ever did. However, we have had Poirot go and stay in villages before when investigating (Dumb Witness, Sad Cypress, etc) but I think many reviewers from when this book was initially published found this to be more humorous than other Poirot novels.
The ending when explained made absolutely no sense. We are left with Poirot trying to match make which also was something that Miss Marple would tend to do in her books, though in this case I just wanted Poirot to shut up and go back to his flat with his valet George.