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One of the most famous characters in the entire mystery and crime genre is Hercule Poirot, the fictional Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie. Created in 1915, he was first published in 1920 in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
He was not only known for his physical characteristics, but his ability to solve crimes by putting clues together like pieces of a puzzle. He believed the best way to solve cases was to use “the little grey cells” and scorned such methods of detection as examining footprints, collecting cigarette ash, searching for clues using a magnifying glass, or taking fingerprints.
He was an armchair detective who loved to “sit still in an armchair and think.” Although the first book in the venerable series had him searching for clues, by the second he began moving towards the psychological style of detection. He came to believe all crimes were psychological. Although he stated having clues was not everything, he was not above snooping through other peoples things, listening in on conversations from behind doors and curtains, and even went through the lingerie drawers of women if necessary.
M. Poirot certainly did not look like a detective. Physically, he was 5’4” with green eyes, a black, waxed mustache, black hair (he was known to die his hair), and an egg-shaped head. He was meticulous in his dress and orderly to the extreme. He hated dust and unclean homes, favored indoors and central air, and avoided extreme weather.
He loved the finer things in life, exotic locales, and exotic drinks. He acted as a father confessor to young women, was courteous to non-criminals, but was known to be impatient, opinionated, and direct. He often appeared more foreign or vain to cause people to underestimate him. At times, he lied to gain their confidence.
By 1930, Agatha Christie said she found Poirot to be insufferable, and in 1960, she used more harsh words to describe the famous detective. The only reason she kept writing the stories was because he had become so popular with the public.
Agatha Christie wrote the final Poirot novel in the early 1940’s, but kept it enclosed in a vault for over thirty years. In 1975, knowing that she would not write much longer, she had the book removed from the vault.
Hercule Poirot died at Styles Court, Essex, England. He was the first fictional character to have a front-page obituary in the New York Times, on August 6, 1975, released by Agatha Christie. Two months later, his final novel, Curtain, was released.
Featured in 33 novels and more than 65 short stories over the fifty-five years before his death, all the stories were set in the same era.
You can buy The Murder of Roger Ackroyd at Amazon.com
You can buy Curtain at Amazon.com
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