I am a lazy person who loves being in the armchair. Perhaps that was one of the biggest reasons that I fell in love with this man who just asked one to sit in the armchair and employ one’s “little gray cells”. Yes, it is Hercule Poirot who I am talking about, the Belgian detective with an egg shaped head, who was created by Agatha Christie in 1916. In the end, every detective solves his or her case, through action or through intelligence, what draws one to the character is the character’s style. And this is a man of style with his perfectly waxed moustache; he is a man of charm, which just sweeps everyone off their feet. Agatha Christie is literally the “queen of mystery”;,all her works are extremely well written, and she can keep a reader on tenterhooks till the last page, but when the detective is someone like Mr.Poirot, the wait till the last page is a pleasantly intriguing one ,to say the least. His antics, even when he is not investigating, are just endearing. His polite courtesies to ladies, his insinuations and his occasional bursts of French are just timeless.
Hastings is his constant companion, like Dr.Watson is to Sherlock Holmes.and their conversations is both lively and enjoyable. Being a Bengali I also cannot but compare Feluda and Byomkesh to Poirot. They are all delightful in their own capacity. Feluda is more akin to Holmes in his methods of solving the cases, relying on measurable clues, and ray’s character is surely intriguing, while Byomkesh also has a class of his own, but Poirot seems to be markedly different from them. In fact he appears to be this towering figure (as opposed to his real height), sitting in his armchair and thinking and solving mysteries, while others do the running about, the grilling questioning etc. We know this queer man with his numerous idiosyncrasies in right when he says. “I am Hercule Poirot and I know”
Poirot particularly appeals to me more than Mr.Holmes. Poirot, in his cases, deals with emotions, feelings, more than with literal facts. His one-liners remain in the minds of the readers even after the story is revealed. The traits of his character that distinguish him from the other detectives like Sherlock Holmes (who has his own admirable style of course) and Miss Marple, is his nonchalance towards the measurable realities; all he cares about is the people, and their emotions. Poirot can extract volumes of information, not through an interrogation, but through plain mundane conversation. The best Poirot mysteries according to me are “And Then There Were None”, and “Curtain”.Each one is good undoubtedly, and people may have different favorites. The Hindi film “Gumnaam” very strikingly resembled the Poirot case “And Then There Were None” and in “Curtain” , the criminal is the perfect foil to Poirot, he too does not act physically, but plays with people’s minds. One could not possibly think of a better enemy for Poirot, he finishes with a bang. Since curtain was his final case.
Poirot is indeed more adorable because of his childlike behavior, indeed he is like a child who rattles on about himself after he has solved a mystery. Sample this: “Once I was definitely on the firm ground, my brain began to work with its normal brilliance.” Only a person with an obscure sense of humour would not smile at his proclamations. Being humble is clearly not his forte, but that can be excused since one actually agrees with Poirot when he casually says,“I am the best” (five little pigs). It is paradoxical that this gentleman who is almost fatherly to everyone around, inspires the emotion of indulgence that one generally feels towards a child.
I read my first Hercule Poirot mystery many years ago but still if I come across one, I don’t bother to fight the temptation of turning the pages yet again, just to smile and admire.
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