Hercule Poirot Revisited With New Stories

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Interesting News About Hercule Poirot

During Autumn 2013, the Managing Director of the Christie rights management company called Acorn Productions Ltd/Agatha Christie Ltd in the UK decided to allow a new Hercule Poirot mystery to be written by an authoress other than Dame Agatha Christie.

This seems to go against Dame Agatha's final wishes that Hercule Poirot die when she did. In fact, she wrote Curtain, discussed further below, many years before it was published. Containing the death and final case of the Belgian detective with the mustaches, Christie wrote it especially for release upon her death.

Many of the rights to her works had passed to her son, but the UK management company seems to be in charge at present. Fans will be delighted at the new installment due during the autumn of 2014, written by Sophie Hannah. She has written crime fiction for the US and UK, as well as poetry and children's literature.

I sincerely hope that Poirot is Poirot-ish enough in 2014. Does he return from the dead, or will this be a new timeline? I look forward to reading the new novel.

What Now, Indeed?

In my reader's imagination, I often envisioned Hercule Poirot to look a little like Salvador Dali. (public domain)
In my reader's imagination, I often envisioned Hercule Poirot to look a little like Salvador Dali. (public domain)

An Unexpected End

It is a coincidence that I ran upon this question a day after I finished reading the final installment of a popular long-lived mystery series. The gist of the question here is exactly what I thought; What now? This book is so good and so full of complex yet entertaining mysteries, that I am doubly at odds with the ending. What now, indeed!

Having been immersed to the knees in workforce materials and scientific/mathematical texts for years, I'd had little time until recently for all I had wanted to consume in one of my favorite literature genres, the mystery novel. This is especially the case with the deductive reasoning approach employed in many stories.

I only began reading Agatha Christie a couple of years ago, and have yet never seen one of the the movies starring M. Hercule Poirot. Since I've reached the end of the line with his cases, I shall have to go out and find the films.

Unlike the generous estate of Sir Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, which contracts with and allows many other writers to weave tales of Holmes and Watson, there is no parallel in the case of Hercule Poirot. So I am left with, What now? There had been 33 novels and some stories of this detective, but to me, there should have been double that number.What to do? Many new mysteries series in the 21st century are pretty cookie-cutter in nature. It won't do.

I'd only just begun to be intigued and entertained. However, the last case was quite a good puzzle and new readers should appreciate it very much.

News has surfaced that two unpublished Poirot manuscripts were uncovered recently and that they were published in late 2009. Thus, we have two more cases.

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David Sachet as Hercule Poirot
David Sachet as Hercule Poirot
David Sachet as Hercule Poirot | Source
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Dealing with the End

Agatha Christie died just 5 months after the death of Hercule Poirot in literature.

The New York Times went so far as to publish a front page obituary for M. Poirot's demise of August, 6, 1975 at the time of the relase of Curtain, his last case. I have never seen this page, but continue to search for it.

Christie had written the manuscript of Curtain some 30 years earlier, during World War II and saved it for the end, wishing it to coincide with her own death. It would be the final curtain - no more Hercule Poirot, no one to write up any more of his cases.

According to an actual timeline, Poirot would have been about 136 years old during his last case. This is similar to The Cat Who mysteries, in which the detective Qwilleran begins as a WWII foreign correspondent in his 40s, but works well into the first decade of the 2000s and is still 50-ish. No pastiche has arisen in that line, either.

I suppose it's similar to favorite TV shows (few) that have ceased broadcasting and left viewers feeling lonely and disappointed. If we had enough good friendships and satisfiying work places, perhaps this would not be so; but, we may lack all those and become attached to television and book characters instead - or Internet game characters. Before us, folks were attached to radio and comic book heroes. We have to find something else to interest us when our favorites are gone. I wonder if anyone dies when their favorite TV show goes off the air?

Poirot's Later Days

Poirot becomes ill and rather feeble, but still the little grey cells are brilliant.
Poirot becomes ill and rather feeble, but still the little grey cells are brilliant. | Source

New Storylines are Possible

In Christie's Curtain, I was not expecting the famous detective to die. In some ways, it is a strange story aside from the fact of Poirot's death before the mystery is finally solved. The book is full of references to old age and deja vu and is quite spooky in that vein. Styles is the locale of both Poirot's first (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) and last cases many years apart, and of his death. It is not a happy place, this latter Styles. In fact, it has begun to fall apart and so has Poirot.

The storyline leaves the Belgian detective's old friend, widower Captain John Hastings, with a posthumous letter from Poirot. The detective's letter instructs John to go and find Elizabeth Cole, nee Litchfield, a victim of one of the series of unfortunate disturbances in the book. The really entertaining phrasing in the letter is "Take a train, or a car, or a series of buses..." We don't know if John went, but we hope he did. Curtain's ending leaves open the possibility that Captain Hastings and Elizabeth might meet again - perhaps court, wed, and go on to solve crimes together, perhaps in the tradition of Nick and Nora Charles or Hart to Hart.

John and Elizabeth might join forces with John's scientist daughter Judith Hastings and her new husband, Dr. Franklin, also involved in the murders and plagues of the aging Styles Court. This is enough foundation for several mystery novels set in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

Alas, thus far nothing has occurred along this line, nor has Poirot been resurrected in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Empty House. Nothing has been contracted with the Christie Estate in the vein of Poirot, and one does not know whether it will ever be considered. It seems pretty well set that Dame Agatha did not want others to make money from her own creation in the future; she said as much I can understand that. But I don't like running out of Poirot.

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Curtain

In Curtain, the aging Poirot is afflicted with arthritis and a heart condition, possibly accompanied by other maladies. He sits in a wheelchair. His hair looks different - does he dye his hair?

His mustachios - can one dye those as well?

Wait, did we see him limping down a hallway or was that another dying man - there are so many in this story?

Read several of the Poirot cases before you read this final affair at Styles. But do read it - and beware of the wheelchair that does not tell the whole truth.

My favorite Poirot is David Sachet.

David Suchet, Dame Agatha Christie. and M. Hercule Poirot

The First Poirot Case: The Affair At Styles

Curtain, Poirot's Official Last Case

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
Curtain: Poirot's Last Case: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)

Ms. Christie wrote this last case years before she was ready to end the career of Hercule Poirot. It was released just a few weeks after her own death and her wish was that no further adventures for this beloved character and his assistant Hastings and his wonderful valet George and Inspector Japp be written by others.

 

© 2009 Patty Inglish

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Comments 17 comments

dusanotes profile image

dusanotes 7 years ago from Windermere, FL

Good job, Patty. Some of us have really enjoyed over the years reading Agatha Christie's many works of mystery, and Hurcule Poirot is a fantastic character in this genre. You seem to understand it perfectly. Do you also write fiction?

I have written two unpublished novels and am working on one now that concerns freedom-loving people in the South pitted against the liberals of the north who have infiltrated Washington D.C. I guess "infiltrated" is not the word. They were voted in and brought their cronies en masse in the case of Mr. Obama. I'm adept at writing articles, it seems, but the problem is that very few writers can ever cross over and do a top-selling novel unless that person is already in the news such as someone like a Glenn Beck or a William Buckley. Keep up the great work, Patty. Don White


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

I think I do better at editing or fleshing out a story than creating a book from scratch. I wrote a young adults book when I was 14 but was not able to get to a publisher. A relative destroyed it; perhaps that's the obstacle.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

Terrific hub and good work. You've gained the expertise in the writing field, I'm so glad you get to let go, relax, and enjoy the Agatha Christie books. They are old favorites for me from years ago.

It is sad that there's a terminus to every favorite series. I'd let the Sherlock Holmes AND the Agatha Christie books go on forever if I had my way!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Holmes lives on though some very good modern writers, including Caleb Carr and his The Italian Secretary. Stephen Seitz has also done well. But no one will be able to do Poirot anymore, I'm afraid. I wonder if the estate reps can ever change their minds?


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Any intellectual property goes into public domain after a set number of years. I don't know exactly how many.

I'm not sure, but I thought the issue with Poirot was that he was clearly dead --- unlike Holmes, who just fell from Watson's view, and Watson ASSUMED he had died.

Also, Doyle --- who was either Watson's editor/publisher, or who wrote Holmes by himself --- how will we ever know, right? --- ;-) never actually killed Holmes for sure.

So, he lives on.

Poirot's situation is a little different, as you can see from the book. Of course Agatha did it that way on purpose. Not sure why.

Some authors don't want their books to be published on an e-reader.

But, there are tons of great fictional mysteries and great fictional detectives out there, so you'll never run out of fun mysteries to read.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Hello Huntgoddess! Thanks and I'd checked that out before --

In UK, limit is 70 yrs after her death, or 2046, but Agatha Christie Limited seems to be renewing American copyrights avery 28 years via their legal firm, because of the clause stating that works before Jan. 1 1978 may be so renewed. Her grandson Mathew Prichard inherited some of the copyrights as part of Agatha Christie Limited. I think I will never see another Poirot novel, unless they run out of heirs, people to run the Limited, and attorneys. LOL

Kinky Friedman ended his last mystery as in Reichenbach Falls as well. He and his friend (suddenly a murderer) go over a NYC Bridge.

Tons, not for me. There are a lot of trash mysteries since 2000 that can't sell out their first printing. Well, but others are up and coming.

Tamar Myers began a new gritty mystery series based on her childhood experiences and the culture of the Congo; she was the child of missionaries. Horrible crimes, but humor as well.

A real treat are the 16 Lestrade mysteries from M.J. Trow in the 1980s - 1990s! Murder, blood, intrigue, and a lot of laughs.

Another good series is one that has sold out 2 printings ans a large-print printing in a single year and is from Andrea Sisco: the Penelope Santucci mysteries. Second book out this year sometime, I hope.

J. Robert King has a great idea in his Return to Reichenbach Falls; he could do a series. The Alienist series is superb, from Caleb Carr. Sue Grafton has a few left in her Alphabet series.

Pray for more!!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I loved watching David Suchet's interview. I started reading agatha as a preteen. I've always thought it was too bad that she died two weeks before I was born. I made the mistake of reading Curtain before I finished reading all of Christie's Poirot books and I was upset by some of Poirot's actions in the novel based on his philosophy of crime and crimals. For a time I stopped reading them. Then I found David. I started reading them again. Now there is only one Christie book I haven't read. I want there to always be a Christie mystery I've never read. But I realized with Suchet wanting to film every mstery of Poirot's that it had to be a different detective, or no series detective at all. I simply cannot watch a movie before I read the book.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I just saw in PBS TV listings that on Sunday 6/18 there will begin a new broadcast of Poirot episodes. I don't know if these are old or new episodes with David, so I am going to watch - I have not seen very many of them yet.

Thanks for writing, Flora!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

They are new to North America, but I believe the UK has already seen them.

June 19th-Three Act Tragedy

june 26th-The Clocks

July 3rd-Halloween Party

At least that's the order they are airing them on my station


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks! - I'll be watching.


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Hi, Patty ~ So sorry I didn't see your reply until now. I forgot to check the box marked "Follow this Hub's comments" I guess.

I didn't know that about the copyright, but everything has to go into public domain eventually.

In any event, I would not WANT to read a Poirot novel that wasn't written by Dame Agatha. So, for me, there's no issue.

I don't mind reading her novels a second, third, fourth --- even tenth --- time. There's always something new to discover. It's kind of like Shakespeare.

Okay, perhaps not tons --- but I do think you'll find some very good new stuff out there.

Thanks again, for your prompt reply, and sorry for my long delay.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Flora - I DID see all those and I loved them. Thanks!

HuntGoddess - I suppose that when attorney corporations holding the copyrights go out of business (and I think each will, eventually - only so many generations go into the same business), then those works will go surely to public domain as well.

In the meantime, I looked around began reading the Martha Grimes series of Richard Jury novels. Very good, but my mind keeps placing them in the 18th or 19th century when they are 20th - 21st.

Michael Bond's Pamplemousse mysteries are a delight!

Thanks!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

The US Supreme Court is making rulings to remove famous authors' works from the public domain - J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell, recently. A 1994 law provides copyright protection to foreign works previously considered free/public domain. More may follow.


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Oh, my.

That is really weird. Tolkien and Orwell are British, and therefore "foreign"? Is that it?

Good one.

I guess Will Shakespeare will be next.

Can you refer me to a link where I can read more about this? Or, just the citations?

I did not know all this, as I say in a previous comment. I thought the issue was that Dr. Watson's editor --- A. C. Doyle :-)) --- no longer owned the copyright.

Since that is not the case --- yes, you are quite correct, that Dr. Watson's :-) heirs have been very generous. But, either way --- I still would not really want to read Poirot by anyone other than Dame Agatha. So, it's not an issue for me.

Thanks for the information, Patty.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Try the publishing newsletter "GalleyCat" online. My subscriber link won't work for anyone else; but the item is probably in other news from the past week. Look at recent US Supreme Court Decisions on their website or try Google News with the search 'US Supreme Court Tolkien.' You'll probably find other authors already 'non-public-domained.' I wonder how far this will go?


Styles1920 profile image

Styles1920 4 years ago from North Shore, Massachusetts

Great Hub! I too love the Hercule Poirot novels and am looking forward to finish reading all of the stories so that I can finally read Curtain!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Curtain is a very good story and I hope you enjoy it. I still miss Poirot, but found a likeable character in Michael Bond's Mr. Pamplemousse. He is a retired French policeman that is now a food critic that gets into a mystery and all sorts of trouble in each book. Bond writes the Paddington Bear books for kids.

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