A review by vintage_b
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, by Agatha Christie


Stories in Collection:
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding- Is an extended version of the alternate titled The Theft of the Royal Ruby. Hercule is off to the English countryside for Christmas to catch a thief. While there, he befriends his host family and, of course, solves the crime. I always find myself chuckling at Monsieur Poirot and his frustrations. His lack of wanting to deal with an English winter in the countryside and how a good mystery can’t keep him away.

The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
Monsieur Poirot is called to help solve the murder of a man who was found after a party in the host's living room hidden in a large Spanish Chest. There is only one person who could have possibly done it, no? However, the victim's wife is adamant that her friend could never do such a thing. Can Hercule get to the truth of the matter? Will the wife have to accept that she might be wrong? This was one I had recalled from long ago but found I did not quite remember the ending as I thought I had. Agatha Christie is the queen of closed-door mysteries. I could not correctly identify the culprit though I had the right motives.

The Under Dog
Lady Astwell has requested the aid of Hercule Poirot in clearing her nephew’s name of murder. Her husband was murdered several days before, and her nephew was charged with the crime. She is confident he did not do it and blames her husband's secretary. Mr. Trefusis. Though she has no proof, she knows he did it. Can Poirot prove who is at fault? Of course, he can, and his methods, as always, are brilliant. A little snooping and hypnosis help him crack the case and prove who was at fault. While more of a “we already sort of know who did it,” the intrigue lies in how Hercule can draw the culprit out. Quite an incredible display of smarts and cunning.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
While eating out with a friend Hercule is drawn to a man sitting near them. The waitress advises that this man is a regular and always comes on the same days and orders much of the same food every time. When the man is later found dead at the bottom of his steps, Hercule can’t help but think how the waitress found it odd that the man had come in the week of his death on a non-normal day and ordered food he had never ordered before. It is this conversation that helps him solve a case no one even knew needed to be solved. Leave it to M. Poirot to solve a murder no one had known occurred.
The Dream
Hercule Poirot is summoned to the home of Mr. Farley. The man has called him there to help him solve a mystery. He keeps having dreams of sitting at his desk and taking out a revolver at the same time each time he dreams and shooting himself. After seeing many Drs. with no answers, he has turned to Poirot for help. After seeing the room Poirot takes his leave. He is notified a week later of the death of Mr. Farley and feels that there is more to his death. After good detective work, he realizes that Mr. Farley did not shoot himself but was murdered in quite a unique fashion. While I had one of the culprits correct, I was thrown on the other, and in the way, he was killed. I do enjoy it when I can’t guess until I am told.

Greenshaw’s Folly
The only Miss Marple story in the bunch was a good one. Raymond West is visiting Greenshaw's Folly with an acquaintance when he is asked by the matron of the house to be witness to her will signing. He obliges not knowing this act would thrust him right into the middle of a murder investigation. The elderly woman is soon found dead via an arrow shot through her heart. The only issue is that the only two other people in the home had been locked in their rooms. Miss Marple finds a way to solve the crime just by hearing the story told. While not my favorite short story by Agatha it was a good one and had some well-hidden nuggets to search through.