In Defence of The Big Four

While commenting on the Worst Poirot Novel topic, it struck me that lots of people don't like The Big Four much. Yet is one of my favourites. I am all too aware of its faults  - it really does read like a series of short stories which have been rather desperately threaded together, which of course is what it is. Yet I find it genuinely thrilling. There is a sense of danger throughout for me and at times it makes me feel sad, other times makes me smile. I reread it a lot and have listened to the audiobook several times.

I don't want to say much more at the moment. I am new here, and not entirely sure of what is acceptable to reveal about a book's plot. But I wondered if there is anyone else out there who likes The Big Four?


  • edited December 2013
    It's ok to discuss a books plot if you put a spoiler warning first. 

    SPOILERS!!!   There are some things I like about the book. Hastings gets to be very heroic. He has a big part in the Big Four.  The fact he saved his life with a cigarette is very ironic! Plus the chess board murder was excellent. I think the chapters would have worked better when they were the individual short stories. 

    Plus Poirot actually saves the whole world from dictators!! 

  • I also quite enjoyed the Big Four - I certainly wouldn't put it down as one of Christie's worst even though I agree Poirot wasn't particularly suited to that kind of plot. 

    I especially liked the part where Poirot invented a brother named Achille - ah the irony - as part of his grand plan. I thought it was ingenious. 
  • AlexBarryAlexBarry Wisconsin, United States
    I recently finished The Big Four, and although it would not rank among my favorites thus far, it held my interest sufficiently.  Some of the action occurred just a bit too quickly, and many situations were resolved in just a few short lines, with too glib a hand. 
    SPOILERS! Given the Chinese antagonist at the center of the tale, and the many references to the insidious and dangerous Oriental mind, I was left wondering if Dame Agatha may have been slightly influenced by Sax Rohmer's wonderful Fu Manchu series.  I further felt, with the descriptions of the infernal energy beam devices, etc, that at least some parts of her mystery could be considered to be a foreshadowing of future Doc Savage pulp fiction adventures, which would first appear only a half-dozen years later.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    It has good chapters but the end was unsatisfactory for me.
  • When completing the book, instantly the The Big Four moved drastically up into the top 3 of my imaginary list of favourite books that I have read since my birth some considerable years ago. And believe me I have read a wide variety of books both old and new. This is my favourite book that Agatha Christie has written in my opinion.

    "Why is The Big Four his favourite book?" I hear you ask, well then I shall answer.

    Any book that is very fast past I instantly like, the saying "Life is too short" often forces itself into my head at infrequent times and I often want to read short novels or short stories.

    I love a book which used unlikely characters in a genre, The Big Four is a thriller, Poirot and Hastings are not really thriller kind-of-characters. (I do not even think I have read any sentence where it says "and Poirot ran"

    Lastly for a fast past book which is not very long, it included quite a lot of stuff. SPOILERS: Exploding mountains, a twin brother, kidnapping, crime lords, undergrounds lairs, man coming through a window then dying and a lot of crime scenes.

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I also think No 4 is Identified too quickly and the Twin Brother is ann anti-climax like Race arriving in Sparkling Cyanide is an anti-climax for me
  • AriadneAriadne Texas, United States
    It was a long while ago when I read The Big Four, but I remember liking it, and also thinking it was different from other Christie books. I'll have to reread it when I can.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
     am seriously considering re-reading the book as due to someone putting something on another sthread that I missed and thinking about it I do like the Plot, I have changed my mind and won't add Murder On The Links to my list as the Plot is not that Great IMHO
  • glalonzo0408glalonzo0408 Pennsylvania, United States
    Has anyone seen the television adaptation?  I have not read the book.....the tv show, in my opinion was not so good.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    The Adaptation is not good but better than some Episodes
  • mike1410mike1410 Franklin, New Zealand

    The book is much better than the television adaptation.

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    There are worse books and worse Adaptions IMHO
  • tudestudes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    I'm re-reading The big Four. It's a weak book. But I think there are a few stories that could have worked if they were short stories, for instance, the murder of the chess player. If this episode was a short story, independent of the whole book, it could have been an interesting one. 
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