THE UNDER DOG, BY AGATHA CHRISTIE (Short stories featuring Hercule Poirot)
I have read, I believe, all of Dame Agatha's books featuring Hercule Poirot; they used to be a big favorite of mine when I was 8-9 years old. I haven't read many of the short stories, though, so I thought this would be interesting.
I think the best way to review short story collections is to talk a little bit about each short story separately and (hopefully) briefly. I won't do that with this one, though; they were all very similar and my interest in them was different from what I usually have when reading, so I'll review the collection as a whole. And I'll skip the synopsis.
Overall enjoyment: Mmmmmm... well. It satisfied my nostalgic tendencies. Also, there is a certain naivité about her writing that I find very sweet and pleasant. So, yeah, I liked it.
Plot: Her plots are, usually, very naive. Also, she has a tendency to cheat: she purposefully withholds information from the reader to avoid giving the mystery away.
Characters: She tends to stereotype a lot. A lot. Which is a bit ironic, considering most of the solutions to her cases would have been obvious if you ignored stereotypes. Then again, maybe that's the whole point.
World/setting: The stories in this book happen, mostly, in (I guess it would be) rural England; usually creating isolated environments where the number of suspects is limited. She does love the closed-room mystery, doesn't she?
Writing style: That is my favorite part, she has a very distinctive voice, just a tiny bit sarcastic and very posh. Except for the first one, all of the stories in this collection also feature Captain Hastings, Poirot's friend who would be something like John Watson to him. The Hastings stories are all in first person, and I especially like to see the difference in the writing.
Representation: Nonexistent. But then, I suppose that's to be expected. Different times and all that.
Political correctness: Again, different times. There's lots of sexism, racism, and any other -ism you would care to mention. She's very much a snob. But I don't think anyone would read her books expecting equality, would they?
Although I did enjoy reading this book, I think, now, Poirot's stories would be better appreciated by children. I don't think I would have liked it at all if I had been introduced to the character as an adult. Maybe the stories are just too naive by now.
Up next: The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen