Hercule Poirot's Christmas

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1938

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, 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.

There is at Christmas time a great deal of hypocrisy, honourable hypocrisy, hypocrisy undertaken pour le bon motif, c'est entendu, but nevertheless hypocrisy!

Hercule Poirot, Hercule Poirot's Christmas

More about this story

The opening epigraph is taken from Macbeth “Yet who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?” and sets the scene for the story to come: tyrannical patriarch Simeon Lee is murdered on Christmas Eve and suspicion falls on his dysfunctional family. A classic Christie with a country manor, family resentment, and secrets behind locked doors.

The novel was first published in 1938, and didn't appear in the US until 1939, under the revised title Murder for Christmas (the title used for the magazine version in 1938), which was changed again to A Holiday for Murder in 1947. In 1994 David Suchet starred in the TV adaptation alongside series favourite Inspector Japp, played by Philip Jackson, who didn’t appear in the original novel. BBC Radio 4 dramatised the story in 2005 with Peter Sallis as the Belgian detective.

Did you know?

  1. Christie wrote the story in response to a criticism from her brother-in-law, James, who said her murders 'were getting to refined.' She states 'You yearned for a good violent murder with lots of blood...so this is your special story - written for you.'

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