Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot (2015)

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I have often noticed these types of books, usually involving well known characters such as Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, which collect snippets from the original works. In all fairness I have been a bit dubious of them, wondering what they can give you if you already have the original works. However, I am pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised by The Quotable Poirot, which I got at Christmas. Whether you want to just dip in to it or blast through it in about 10 minutes it is an enjoyable little book. What really sold this book for me was the fact that it included excerpts in the introduction and conclusion from an article Agatha Christie wrote for the Daily Mail in 1938, which she did to introduce the serialisation of her then new novel Appointment with Death. This is not an article I have read before and I gleaned quite a lot from it. For instance it was interesting to read Christie discussing how Poirot developed as a character, writing that:

‘As early as The Murder on the Links he was showing his appreciation of the mental processes of the murderer and insisting that every crime had a definite signature.’

Christie also touches candidly on her difficult relationship with her character, though she does mention one benefit he has given her:

‘he has taught me something – to take more interest in my own characters; to see them more as real people and less as pawns in a game.’

Finally it also interested me to see which cases Christie thought Poirot did the best, as on the one hand she writes that ‘in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd he was at his best investigating a crime in a quiet country village and using his knowledge of human nature to get at the truth.’ But on the other hand she says that ‘in The Mystery of the Blue Train I have always suspected he was not at his best,’ though he seems to redeem himself in both Lord Edgware Dies and Cards on the Table.

The book divides its’ quotes into different categories, ranging from themes such as England and cooking to women, Captain Hastings and of course Poirot himself. It was nice to see many of the short stories Poirot featured in getting coverage in the book, though I think there is perhaps a leaning towards earlier novels in the canon. From an aesthetics point of view this book scored well with its velveteen Poirot moustache on the cover and spine. To end my review I decided to leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book…

‘Wherever there is human nature, there is drama. But – it is not always just where you think it is.’

– ‘The King of Clubs’

‘Les femmes… they are marvellous! They invent haphazard – and by miracle they are right. Not that it is that, really. Women observe subconsciously a thousand little details, without knowing that they are doing so. Their subconscious mind adds these little things together – and they call the result intuition.’

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

[N. B. This and the quote below are not favourite quotes because I endorse their views, but they did remind me of an aspect that I had forgotten about with Poirot.]

‘To count – and really and truly to count – a woman must have goodness or brains.’

Evil Under the Sun

‘Knees are a very good indication of age. The knees of a woman of twenty three or twenty four can never really be mistaken for the knees of a girl of fourteen or fifteen.’

Cat Among the Pigeons

[N. B. Very hard to not look at your own knees at this point, trying to decide how old they make you look]

‘Why does a woman keep a photograph of herself when young? She has been a pretty girl and she keeps a photograph of herself to remind her of what a pretty girl she was. It encourages her when her mirror tells her unpalatable things.’

Mrs McGinty’s Dead

[N. B. If you are not hugely photogenic, like myself, this is probably a not a good idea]

‘The English people, they have mania for the fresh air. The big air, it is all very well outside, where it belongs. Why admit it to the house?’

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

[N. B. Poirot definitely has a good point here]

‘He speaks too many languages for a good Englishman! (Pardon me, as linguists, you are deplorable!)’

– ‘The Kidnapped Prime Minister’

[N. B. Having completely confused a sales person in France on holiday it is hard to not agree with this statement. Though at least according to Poirot us Brits are at least romantic.]

‘The tallest books go in the top shelf, the next tallest in the row beneath, and so on. Thus we have order, method.’

– The Adventure of the Western-Star’

[N. B. This quote goes to show that Poirot is not always right. Organising books by height sounds an abominable idea]

‘And the palm trees, I like them not. Not even do they plant them in rows.’

– ‘The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb’

‘Murder, I have often noticed, is a great matchmaker.’

The ABC Murders

[N. B. Not sure E-Harmony are going to incorporate it though]

‘If a man poisons his wife in order to travel to the North Pole… it would not interest his fellow villagers for a minute! It is because they are convinced that the murder has been committed in order that the man may marry another woman that the talk grows and spreads.’

– ‘The Lernean Hydra’

[N. B. Possibly one motive for murder that hasn’t been used in fiction.]

‘What a wonderful dispensation it is of Nature’s that every man, however superficially unattractive, should be some woman’s choice.’

Mrs McGinty’s Dead

[N. B. Good news for all you single gents in the run up to Valentine’s Day.]

‘You know, Hastings, in many ways I regard you as my mascot.’

The ABC Murders

[N. B. Sure Hastings was really chuffed to hear this]

‘If you would only use the brains the good God has given you. Sometimes I really am tempted to believe that by inadvertence He passed you by.’

Lord Edgware Dies

[N. B. Great being friends with Poirot isn’t it?]

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About armchairreviewer

Qualified English teacher, with a passion for literature and crime fiction. On a random note I also own pygmy goats and chickens with afros (it doesn't get any cooler than that).
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8 Responses to Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot (2015)

  1. richmonde says:

    [N. B. If you are not hugely photogenic like myself this is probably a not a good idea]

    Would this sentence be improved by commas? I think it would still be ambiguous but I choose to believe that you are indeed hugely photogenic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Santosh Iyer says:

    According to Poirot, the English have a mania for fresh air and they are poor linguists. Also, they never grow up !
    I quote Poirot:
    “The Anglo-Saxon, he takes nothing seriously but playing games! He does not grow up.” (Death On The Nile)
    ‘Incredible! The English never grow up!’ (Appointment With Death)
    I don’t know whether these 2 quotes are mentioned in your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JFW says:

    Well… The quotes explain why Poirot’s worst enemy wasn’t the Countess Vera Rossakoff or even himself – but Agatha Christie, who found him most detestable. 😛

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You’ve chosen some great quotes! Half the fun of reading Poirot is the phrase treasures he drops here and there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the book because it had revealed a lot about AC herself. She gave another ‘clue’ as to why HP seemed to be ‘beside himself’ in The Mystery of The Blue Train. It was the toughest year for her.

    Liked by 1 person

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