Agatha Christie — Peril At End House (abridged audiobook)

Read by Hugh Fraser
ISBN 978-0230747371 (also 978-1405088626)

Abridged by Kati Nicholl, 3 CD set, running time approx 3 hours

Poirot has retired, and is taking his leisure in a seaside town, determined not to take on any new cases. But when a pretty young woman by the nickname of Nick tells him about a series of near-fatal accidents that have befallen her, he cannot resist temptation. The accidents are clearly not accidents, and the young lady must be protected. He is determined to unmask the killer before one of the accidents proves fatal. Alas, the killer strikes again — but strikes down Nick’s cousin, who had the misfortune to be wearing Nick’s distinctive wrap. Now Poirot’spersonal pride is at stake, and there is still Nick to protect…

Red herrings and side plots abound, but Poirot gets there in the end. It’s a beautifully constructed book, with the answer right in front of the reader from early in the book, concealed by some artful misdirection. The audiobook is read by Hugh Fraser. who plays Hastings in the tv series. Fraser is generally a good reader, but I found his portrayal of Poirot rather off-putting. He uses a very strong accent that in comparison with Suchet’s performance sounds like an overplayed stereotype. Of course, part of the problem here is that Suchet *is* Poirot for me, and anything else would sound wrong — and my subconscious attention is drawn to it because Hastings sounds right.

In spite of which, I enjoyed this 3 CD set a lot. The story has been abridged well, and I enjoy listening to Hugh Fraser. I happened to pick this up in The Works for four pounds, and think that it was superb value for money at that price. List price is 13 pounds, although the online shops are listing it for less. I might think twice about paying full price for others in the series because of my issue with Fraser’s portrayal of Poirot, but I wouldn’t have considered it a waste of money. One minor point with the cheap version offered in The Works — it’s a very simple case with only one spindle for the 3 CDs, so you have to lift the first discs out to get at the later discs, with an additional risk of scratching one eventually. It’s also available in download.

at Play.com
at the Book Depository

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