one-two-buckle-my-shoe“Mr Morley was not in the best of tempers at breakfast.”

Given my general propensity to read one Christie novel a month, I’ve worked out lately that I’ve got twenty-nine left to go. So it’ll be a good two and a half years yet before I’m done. Anyway, onwards and upwards, here’s the next one.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe is yet another Christie that dons a title based on a nursery rhyme, giving the whole thing a bit of a creepier edge. This one opens with Hercule Poirot having to attend the dentist, a task he absolutely hates and one of the few things that makes him feel cowardly. However, the appointment is made and he attends with his usual dentist, Mr Morley. Little does he suspect at the time, though, that in just a few short hours Chief Inspector Japp will call him back to the dentist surgery. Mr Morley has been found dead, having supposedly shot himself in the head. Japp is ready to rule it as suicide, but Poirot has other suspicions.

Japp and Poirot begin to hunt down the other patients who had seen Mr Morley that morning, but even that becomes needlessly complicated when it turns out another one of them has died, possibly from an overdose of a certain drug administered by Morley himself, and another witness has vanished into thin air. The case becomes more and more mysterious, as Poirot comes to realise that this crime is far bigger than the mere murder of a dentist…

Like a few of her other books, usually the Tommy & Tuppence series, this one deals (at least vaguely) with the idea that there are far bigger crimes going on in the world than Poirot often sees first hand. There’s the implication of a shadowy network of people that are controlling the world from behind the scenes, and I’ve never been massively keen on Christie when she gets into that sort of business. I much prefer her locking a bunch of people in a house and having one of them drop dead. That said, I really enjoyed this one. It’s quick, surprising, engaging and while I was way off in my guess of who the murderer was, I was nonetheless happy with the conclusion. It shows Poirot as a little more human, struggling with the shades of grey that make up his job, rather than showing it as always being a strict black and white situation. As Poirot himself notes, he doesn’t take sides, but is merely on the side of the truth.

A smart book, and one that has made me grateful that I only went to the dentist a few weeks ago, and the next time I go I won’t have to worry about being murdered in the chair. After all, we are perhaps at our most vulnerable when sat in front of a dentist.

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