Agatha Christie: Halloween Party (Originally published in 1969)
’Old sins have long shadows.’
One evening, Poirot is called by his dear friend, Ariadne Oliver. She was visiting a friend in Woodleigh Common when a tragedy happened at a Halloween party for children. Joyce Reynolds, a 12-year-old girl, was drowned. The police suspect a mental patient, as the number of crimes against children has already increased. However, something worries Mrs. Oliver: the child declared during the evening that she had already seen a murder. Apparently no one believed her, but at the end of the evening she was found dead. Was anyone scared by what she knew?
Poirot is nearing the end of his career (he will only have two cases after that) when he sets out to investigate this case. As usual, he starts from the personality of the victim and the testimonies of eyewitnesses, but here he will also have other material evidence at his disposal. Several previous cases are mentioned in the story: he and Chief Inspector Spence previously investigated Mrs. McGinty’s death together (Mrs. McGinty’s Dead), Ariadne Oliver asked for her friend’s help during a murder hunt that went wrong (Dead Man’s Folly), the headmistress of the local school had heard about the detective from the headmistress of the famous Minerva boarding school (Cat Among the Pigeons). If Joyce was telling the truth, her death is connected to one of the earlier deaths in the town. As Poirot says, ’Old sins have long shadows.’ This sentence will also appear in the penultimate case, Elephants Can Remember.
Hercule Poirot investigates in a total of 33 novels and 7 volumes of short stories after his first appearance in 1920. The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Poirot’s and Agatha Christie’s first novel. Since then, there have been many film, theater, cartoon and graphic novel adaptations. There was even a video game made about the Belgian detective, and his most famous movie actor is David Suchet. Adaptation of the stories is still ongoing: A Séance in Venice, based on this novel, was released in cinemas this fall. Thanks to Sophie Hannah, we can see the world’s most famous detective investigating again in book pages.
Ariadne Oliver appears in a total of 8 books and not only in Poirot stories. The writer is Agatha Christie’s own caricature, Ariadne’s detective Sven Hjerson represents Poirot, towards whom Ariadne has the same ambivalent feelings as Agatha Christie and her most famous detective. The Finnish detective, who is a fictional character of a fictional character, was recently made into a series under the title Agatha Christie’s Hjerson, which moves the story to present-day Sweden.