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Elephants Can Remember

A Hercule Poirot Mystery
Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
Series: Hercule Poirot, Book 40, Ariadne Oliver, Book 8
Length: 5 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (442 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"The Ravenscrofts didn't seem that kind of person. They seemed well balanced and placid..." And yet, twelve years earlier, the husband had shot the wife, and then himself - or perhaps it was the other way around, since sets of both of their fingerprints were on the gun, and the gun had fallen between them. The case haunts Ariadne Oliver, who had been a friend of the couple. The famous mystery novelist desires this real-life mystery solved, and calls upon Hercule Poirot to help her do so.

Poirot is now a very old man, but his mind is as nimble and as sharp as ever and can still penetrate deep into the shadows. But as Poirot and Mrs. Oliver and Superintendent Spence reopen the long-closed case, a startling discovery awaits them. And if memory serves Poirot (and it does!), crime - like history - has a tendency to repeat itself.

©1972 Agatha Christie Limited (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat predictable mystery - due to my own fault

In the last Christie novel I read - Murder is announced - there was an allusion to elephants' memory by the end of the story. That prompted to listen to this book. However, that seemed to have partly ruined the surprise for me.

Read alone, the story is intriguing and cleverly laid out. Poirot is asked to investigate a suicide pact that happened many years ago. He goes on to find out what actually happened and reveals that the incident may not be as simple as was thought by the police. The flow of the story was clear and the initial question that draws Poirot into the investigation - did the wife kill the husband or did the husband kill the wife? - is equally fascinating to the reader.

The only problem with the story is that it draws on too many ideas from other Christie novels. I could sum up the story in the following equation: Five Little Pigs setting (Poirot) + A Murder is Announced solution concept (Marple) + Silver Blaze clue (Holmes). At the end I was quite confident that I knew what the solution was.

But if you haven't read many of Christie's novels the solution will be as mind-blowing as ever. So I'd give it a try.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hugh Fraser is awesome!

Agatha Christie is a master at creating characters and Hugh Fraser brings them to life.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Ariadne Oliver and Poirot investigate old murders using old memories

Not a fast moving mystery, nor one with lots of action.

Poirot is old, perhaps retired. Mrs. Oliver's goddaughter, Celia, needs her help. Mrs. Oliver visits Poirot and tells him what Celia needs to know. Because her boyfriend, Desmond, is getting pressure from his overbearing adoptive mother to break up their, Celia and Desmond's, relationship. Why is she dragging up old history? What is Mrs. Burton-Cox up to? What really happened all those years ago to Celia's beloved mother and father?

Mrs. Oliver hunts up elephants, the memories of old people who might know something about the past. Poirot assures her that even if they do not remember correctly, whatever the elephants remember is helpful. Poirot consults the detective who investigated the case (he is now retired and devoted to his roses) about everything he remembers about the case. Poirot puts the puzzle pieces together to assemble the truth about the past because after talking to both Celia and Desmond, he realizes they need the truth in order to marry; Celia is afraid to marry without knowing the truth.

Poirot also meets Mrs. Burton-Cox and investigates her! He finds out the truth there too. It is a good thing for Desmond that he does because she has been lying by omission. (This part surprised me. I am so naive sometimes.)

At the heart of the novel are identical twins, Molly and Dolly. If I say any more, I might spoil your chances of solving this mystery yourself, as I did. Listen carefully. The clues are there, this is a fair play mystery.

There are a lot of conversations in this novel which is why it moves slowly. However, the resolution is very satisfactory and solving this one is satisfactory too. I also enjoy the Christie novels containing Mrs. Ariadne Oliver. She is so amusing. Her scenes with her new secretary in this one are quite funny.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent story and narration

Hugh Fraser is god amongst men. He should narrate at least 90% of audiobooks in existence! He does a better Poirot reading than the man most of us associate with Hercule Poirot - David Suchet.

This story is a classic Christie and an easy but interesting listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Spectacular in every way

The best of Agatha Christie, narrated by the consummate narrator, Hugh Fraser. It's a must if you love great mysteries

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Weakest Christie book I have read

I normally like Agatha Christie a lot and can rely on her to provide a good, safe bet for listening. I particularly like Hercule Poirot but found this book to be the weakest I have read by her.
If you have not read Agatha Christie try something else as I think this is the worst example of her books I have read so far.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another great story by the Queen of Crime

I enjoyed this story. Mrs. Oliver is one of my favorite support characters Agatha Christie has created. The mystery is true to her style.

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Loved it!

Love Agatha Christie and Hugh Fraser is a wonderful narrator for her stories. Definitely recommend this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Agatha Christie not at her best

Wonderful narration by Hugh Fraser, as always. This is an Ariadne Oliver and Hercule Poirot mystery. I like these two characters working together to solve a mystery. Overall, the plot was weak and the ending, while surprising to me, was unbelievable.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not that great

The story was a bit of a bore (actually a lot of bore! :) But the narration was great as usual and so I listened through it. Not as great as most of the other Poirot cases. I didn’t care much for the mystery either.