One of Agatha Christie’s Most Underrated Books: A Review of Five Little Pigs

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Forget the grand country houses and the locked-room mysteries with a murderer on the prowl, “Five Little Pigs” by Agatha Christie is a refreshing twist on her usual formula. Published in 1942, this novel takes you on a fascinating journey through time and memory, leaving you guessing until the very last page.

Why the title ‘Five Little Pigs’?

The moment Hercule Poirot accepts a commission to unravel the truth behind this rather challenging case, he starts analyzing the characters involved and it is during this analysis that he often comes up with lines like “This little pig had roast beef” or ” This little pig had none”. Admittedly enough I had only heard the story of  ” The Three Little Pigs and the Wolf” and knew zilch about the story of “The Five Little Pigs”.Here is what I found online about this children’s nursery rhyme , which involved wiggling and toe counting. – The story of the Five little pigs .

Basically the children’s story talks about various type of personalities- the responsible , the foolish , the mischievous and so on.Everytime Poirot reaches a conclusion about a character he slots them into a category.

Suspenseful Plot:

Now that we have solved the mystery of the title , let us talk about the plot.The story revolves around the infamous case of Caroline Crale, convicted sixteen years ago for the murder of her husband, the flamboyant artist Amyas Crale.When Caroline’s daughter Carla Lemarchant turns twenty one , she receives a letter left by her mother where she confesses to being innocent of killing her husband.

Carla seeks Hercule Poirot’s help to prove her mother’s innocence. The only catch? There are no witnesses, this was sixteen years back, no physical evidence, just whispers and shadows from the past.

Instead of focusing on a traditional investigation, Poirot takes an unconventional approach. He delves into the lives of the five individuals closest to Amyas on the night of his death, and deducts his findings from their testimonies. Through their testimonies, we get a fragmented picture of Amyas, a man shrouded in secrets, charm, and potential enemies.

Five little pigs by Agatha Christie

What Makes it Different:

This is where “Five Little Pigs” truly shines. Unlike Christie’s other works, the focus isn’t on the “whodunnit” aspect alone. It’s about piecing together the puzzle about what could really have happened through unreliable narratives, hidden agendas, and the passage of time. Each character’s recollection paints a different picture of Amyas and the events that took place, raising doubts and shifting suspicions. Poirot, with his masterful mind and unwavering curiosity and his sharp insights into human psychology meticulously examines these conflicting perspectives, building a case not just for who killed Amyas, but also to prove Caroline’s innocence.

The novel beautifully explores the unreliability of memory and the subjectivity of truth. As each year unfolds, we see how time can distort events, motives, and even personalities. This psychological depth adds another layer to the mystery, making it more than just a puzzle to solve. As Hercule Poirot states immodestly :

One does not , you know,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.

It is this-‘ he tapped his egg-shaped head- ‘this that functions!’

The narration becomes a study of human nature, the art of deception, and the moving power of love and hate.

Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

Why You Should Read it:

Even if you’re not a die-hard Christie fan, “Five Little Pigs” offers a unique and engaging experience.

  • It’s a shorter read compared to her other novels, making it perfect for a quick weekend escape.
  • The writing is crisp and concise, keeping the pacing tight and the suspense building.
  • Poirot, while still retaining his eccentricities, is more introspective here, adding a new dimension to his character.
  • The ending is brilliant , you will not see it coming – at all.

So, if you’re looking for a Christie novel that’s different, intriguing, and surprisingly emotional, “Five Little Pigs” is a delightful treat waiting to be devoured.

Book Specifications:

  • Title: Five Little Pigs
  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Genre: Detective Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Crime fiction
  • First Published: 1942
  • Average Reading Time: 5-7 hours
  • My Rating : 4/5

Bonus recommendation :

For an even richer experience, listen to the audiobook narrated by David Suchet, who embodies Poirot perfectly. Just be prepared to have your mind blown and  mesmerized by this timeless masterpiece.

Fan of Agatha Christie? Find some more book reviews here

The Mysterious affair at Styles | Agatha Christie | Book Review

The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side | Agatha Christie | Book Review

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot vs. Miss Marple: Who Is the Better Detective?

More detective stories for you

Traitors Gate by Jeffrey Archer- The William Warwick series | Book Review

Book Review : Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry

Hot Stage | Anita Nair | Book Review

A Few Right Thinking Men | Sulari Gentill | Book Review

Book Review : Sherlock Holmes : Playing the Game

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Mads’ Cookhouse.

Do you think our memory of past events remains unchanged throughout the years?

Are you a fan of whodunnit?

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