Five Little Pigs

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1942

Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, yet there were five other suspects: Philip Blake (the stockbroker) who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist) who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee) who had roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess) who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister) who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home. It is sixteen years later, but Hercule Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.

One does not employ merely the muscles. I do not need to bend and measure the footprints and pick up the cigarette ends and examine the bent blades of grass. It is enough for me to sit back in my chair and think.

Hercule Poirot, Five Little Pigs

More about this story

First published as a novel in the US in 1942, under the title Murder in Retrospect, the story shows Christie’s fascination with memory and time. Poirot is asked by a young woman to solve the mystery of her father’s murder, to clear her deceased mother’s name. Through the testimonies of those who were present on the day of the murder, Poirot must reconstruct the scene. Considered one of Christie’s hidden gems, this story shows Poirot at his best, studying the words of witnesses and reading between the lines.

Similarly to some of Christie's other works, Five Little Pigs gets its named name from a nursery rhyme, and each of the five main characters is perfectly reflected in the rhyme.

Christie’s own adaptation of the novel into a play in 1960, saw her not only change the title to Go Back For Murder but also removed the character of Poirot entirely. In the play, Poirot's function is replaced by a young lawyer, Justin Fogg, son of the lawyer who led Caroline Crale's case.

David Suchet starred in the 2003 TV adaptation, which included several major changes. The character of Philip Blake, rather than being in love with Caroline, was in fact in love with her husband Amyas, Caroline had been executed, and Carla’s name is changed to Lucy. In 2006, BBC Radio 4 adapted the story with favourite John Moffatt as Poirot. A graphic novel of the story was released in 2010.

Did you know?

  1. The crime scene is based closely on Greenway Estate with the geography of the story corresponding exactly with Greenway's grounds. As the movements of the victim are integral to the plot, parts of the estate are described in detail.

  2. The unusual name Amyas came from the cousin of friends who the young Agatha once pic-nicked with at Anstey’s Cove in Torquay.

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