The Murder on the Links (Agatha Christie)

  • First published: UK, Bodley Head, 1923; USA, Dodd Mead, 1923

My review

An early, but not outstanding, Poirot tale. The plot is dated melodrama, composed of mysterious millionaires, midnight visitors, South American conspirators, and romantic and “sensational” complications in France — pure A.E.W. Mason, with a lavish helping of Conan Doyle‘s The Abbey Grange thrown in for good measure. Several gaping holes are left in the plot, the most noticeable being why Conneau should have thought a repeat performance would fool his former accomplice for a minute. Only the contest between Poirot and the French Sherlock Holmes, Giraud, and Poirot’s clever deductions as to the Conneau case, are particularly exciting. It is also doubtful whether the reader could reach a solution on the clues given, as Poirot’s solution is almost pure guesswork. Poirot’s Watson, the singularly obtuse Captain Hastings, acts out of character throughout; the romantic sub-plot is maudlin and awkward.

Contemporary reviews

Times Literary Supplement (7th June 1923):

In this tale Mrs. Christie gives us another example of the powers of Hercule Poirot, detective, whose first case was described in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  Poirot is different in his methods from Sherlock Holmes.  “He had a certain disdain”, we are told, “for tangible evidence, such as footprints and cigarette ash”, but he resembles the master in his habit of lamenting that the great criminals have ceased to exist.  Luckily a letter arrives from a millionaire imploring his assistance on the ground that his life is threatened.  Poirot hurries to the scene only to find that his client has been murdered before he could reach him.  Such is the start of a most complicated affair, the unravelling of which by the Belgian detective provides the reader with an enthralling mystery story of an unusual kind.

NY Times (25th March 1923, 550w): A remarkably good detective story which can be warmly commended to those who like that kind of fiction.

Lit R (14th April 1923, 150w): The plot is really clever; its suspense is well kept up and the solution is fair enough.  What more need one ask of a detective yarn?

Daily Express (S.P.B. Mais): One of the best mystery stories I have read.

The Clarion (Winifred Blatchford): A clinking yarn, most ingeniously contrived and skilfully evolved…there is not a superfluous word or a dull one from start to finish…the very best of this sort of fiction.

Daily Mail: Mrs. Christie has a surprising gift of keeping the reader’s tension unslacked, of heaping excitement on excitement, and of always having a surprise up her sleeve.

Queen: Unhesitatingly we recommend The Murder on the Links to every lover of such tales, and every non-lover likewise we advise to read it and thereupon reconsider their previous opinion.