It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered when the tyrannical Simeon Lee is found dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
October 31, 2000
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Excerpt from Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
Stephen pulled up the collar of his coat as he walked briskly along the platform. Overhead a dim fog clouded the station. Large engines hissed superbly, throwing off clouds of steam into the cold raw air. Everything was dirty and smoke-grimed.
Stephen thought with revulsion:
'What a foul country -- what a foul city!'
His first excited reaction to London, its shops, its restaurants, its well-dressed, attractive women, had faded. He saw it now as a glittering rhinestone set in a dingy setting.
Supposing he were back in South Africa now... He felt a quick pang of homesickness. Sunshine -- blue skies -- gardens of flowers -- cool blue flowers -- hedges of plumbago -- blue convolvulus clinging to every little shanty.
And here -- dirt, grime, and endless, incessant crowds -- moving, hurrying -- jostling. Busy ants running industriously about their ant-hill.
For a moment he thought, 'I wish I hadn't come...'
Then he remembered his purpose and his lips set back in a grim line. No, by hell, he'd go on with it! He'd planned this for years. He'd always meant to do -- what he was going to do. Yes, he'd go on with it!
That momentary reluctance, that sudden questioning of himself: 'Why Is it worth it Why dwell on the past Why not wipe out the whole thing ' -- all that was only weakness. He was not a boy -- to be turned his this way and that by the whim of the moment. He was a man of forty, assured, purposeful. He would go on with it. He would do what he had come to England to do.