F is for Five Little Pigs

This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.

F is for Five Little Pigs
Five Little Pigs (also called Murder in Retrospect) features Hercule Poirot, Christie’s redoubtable Belgian detective. In Five Little Pigs, Poirot travels back in time, figuratively of course, to solve a mystery that is 16 years old. The story begins with Carla Crale who asks Poirot to investigate the murder of her father Amyas Crale, ostensibly at the hands of her mother Caroline Crale. The proposition interests Poirot since the murder happened 16 years ago. I won’t say anymore about the book because that would spoil the fun of reading it. Personally, I didn’t feel it was Christie’s best work but neither is it close to her worst (I reserve that award for The Hollow). This is definitely worth a read to see how she handles a murder with no “scene” to speak of, and no “evidence” to look at.

Reading it did make me wonder how such a novel would play out today. The book I’m writing is set 14 years ago, and I have to constantly remind myself that there was no Facebook, Twitter or Google. In fact much of the technology we use now was non-existent or rudimentary then. I wonder if Five Little Pigs has any such problems. Presumably, technology changed much more slowly back then so writing about the near past didn’t include too many pitfalls.

Have you ever faced this problem when writing a novel and do you have any interesting stories to share about it?


6 responses »

  1. Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post

    It does sound very interesting. I have so many Christie books to get around to still!

    • This is definitely a different Christie and one I grew to appreciate as I grew older. I have the opposite problem of too many Christies. I have very few left to read, but a whole wide world of other authors that I’m discovering. I used to be a very author-specific reader and still working to change that.

  2. Margot Kinberg

    Peter – I’m so glad you featured this one! It may not be among Christie’s best, but one thing I do like about it is the way the different witnesses’ accounts are used to show what really happened on the fatal afternoon. It’s interesting too to see how a past crime affects those left behind.

    • Margot, you are so right. When I first read this one as a kid, I felt it was a lot of talking. Much later, I realized what a good job Christie had done. In general, I find Christie very good at differentiating her characters purely from the dialogue. I did not realize how hard that is until I started writing myself.

      • Margot Kinberg

        Peter – It is hard to use dialogue effectively to distinguish characters isn’t it? Christie did that well; it’s among an awful lot of things I’ve learned from her. That’s one reason for which even her weakest work is heaps better in my opinion than a lot of other people’s best.

        • Margot – Very hard. I find that even though my characters are different in my head, I write them all in my voice. And, yes, I would gladly be stuck on a deserted island with The Hollow than most other books. 🙂


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