Wow...what a thriller. I don't think I've ever been made so nervous in a murder mystery before. And I had little clue the entire way through, until something mentioned in passing by the police in the penultimate chapter perked up my suspicions- but even then I hadn't put it all together (I had really stopped trying very hard to figure it out once the doctor was found... just waiting it out until the unveil at that point). Sent shivers down my spine nearly the whole 6 hours. That nursery rhyme was well selected; I still feel a little haunted by it... The constant murder countdown, one by one slowly and inevitably...
Dan Stevens, hats off to you! If I hadn't known better, I could have thought there was a full cast reading this, rather than a single person supplying over a dozen voices. Stevens is one of the only male narrators I have heard able to voice multiple female characters so well and consistently, without trouble distinguishing between them or sounding too high-pitched or forced. Masterfully done, seamless character transitions, and fantastically carried out the emotion of every scene -not just of individuals, but the atmosphere. From the initial curiosity and disbelief, to the suspicion and weariness, he made it palpable, as if you were right there on the island with them... It was one of the most marvelous performances I have ever heard, rivaled only by Stevens' own narration of Murder on the Orient Express. If I could give him more than 5 stars, I would!
A wonderful chilling suspense mystery. Gotta love the timing of a thunderstorm as I read the last chapters... A great read, which I will gladly revisit in future, especially since my heartbeat has returned to normal now...
Another installment illustrations the methodical workings of Hercule Poirot's little gray cells. Rather fantastic seeming, the first serial murder case Hastings has told us about. The alphabetical nature did have me wondering. I liked the new investigative legion of victims' family/friends to help hone in on the culprit. I particularly liked a comment Poirot made about how conversation was the undoing of concealment and his quoting that speech was man's invention to prevent thinking. He hinged much throughout the investigation on what would come to light in the course of discussion - and, of course, he was right. And as always he (and the narrative) employed a little misdirection and suggestion while the pieces fell into place. Leading up to the traditional reveal scene I still had no clue how the explanation would go...my suspicions had been thoroughly diverted. Until he said something in the early moments of his speech about the nature and personality of the killer, and it suddenly dawned on me. Still a nice little surprise or two in the denouement after that. Trusty narrator Fraser again did not disappoint, incorporating numerous voices and accents to distinguish not only the traditional cast but more than a dozen other major and minor players. An interesting mystery, unique in many ways, and yet still classic Christie / Poirot style.
This story was unique in the telling, from a first person point of view by a character on scene at the time of murder but unconnected with the group and who helps Poirot in his investigations (but who is not wholly above suspicion). I liked the perspective, as she lent her own practical and no-nonsense take of the people and events. And she distinguished herself from the few previous storytellers in the way she expressed herself, her calm evaluations, and I rather appreciated her conduct with the investigation and Poirot. Unlike Hastings, she didn't outwardly fall for red herrings or show Poirot some insight by way of grasping everything that was ultimately unimportant. She was on hand and helpful and gave useful info to him in just the manner of her profession, as she herself describes, a nurse there to help the attending doctor.
As far as the whodunit, I had many surmises along the way, and new info on alibis and motives was still surfacing right up until the big reveal. I had my suspicions proved right about the monk, and I was partially right about Mr. Kerry, but hasn't figured him out entirely. I was greatly amused by Coleman, and as a reader of PG Wodehouse, I appreciated the reference and found it a wonderful comparison. But honestly, this case had me fogged for the most part, and I had not come close to guessing the solution that Poirot unveiled in the end.
Appropriately, for this female-narrated volume, they chose a female narrator rather than the usual voice of Poirot I am accustomed to. She took a few chapters to get used to, but she was pretty good on the whole. Her weakness was in maintaining numerous male characters' voices, and some times their accents would blend into each other. It made a few dialogues a tad confusing, but on the whole didn't obfuscate the actions. What bothered me more was the fluctuation of her Poirot voice - it always held his "foreign" accent as the nurse put it, but at various times it sounded as if it was that accent applied to Emmott's tone or the husband's or the nurse herself, rather than a single consistent voice.
An enjoyable journey. Interesting, chronologically this case takes places just prior to that of the murder on the Orient Express, though this volume is several books later in the series.