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Book of the Month

Book of the Month: The Big Four

1st February 2017

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell. Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about ‘Number Four’.

Following the enormous success of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie was due to write another book for her publisher. She was experiencing a hard time personally and consequently was suffering from writer’s block. Her much-loved mother had passed away and her marriage to Archie was breaking down. At the advice of her brother-in-law, Christie reworked a 12-week serial, The Man Who Was Number Four, that she’d written for The Sketch magazine in the UK three years, cobbling it together to make a full-length novel. The book is made up of 12 short interlinking stories, amalgamated into one narrative, all involving the big four villains.

A sinister man, a multi-millionaire, a beautiful Frenchwoman and ‘The Destroyer’ are terrorising the world with their fiendish genius. Only Hercule Poirot’s sensational methods of deduction can stand in the way of world domination, and after adventures as strange as the Arabian nights, Poirot runs them to earth at last in a cave in the Dolomites.

The novel was published only a few weeks after the eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie which sparked national interest, consequently causing The Big Four to be a sales hit. Given the circumstances it was no surprise that The Big Four remained one of Christie’s least favourite novels.

Did you know?

- The novel entered its 90th anniversary on the 27th January 2017.

- This is the first time that Hercule Poirot’s identical twin brother, Achille, is introduced. But is he real?

Discover more about The Big Four here.