[Review] Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

Title: Hallowe'en Party
Author: Agatha Christie
Page: 336 pages
Genre: Vintage Crime
Subject: Hercule Poirot, Cozy Mysteries
First Published: 1969

Mystery writer Ariadne Oliver has been invited to a Hallowe'en party at Woodleigh Common. One of the other guests is an adolescent girl known for telling tall tales of murder and intrigue -- and for being generally unpleasant. But when the girl, Joyce, is found drowned in an apple-bobbing tub, Mrs. Oliver wonders after the fictional nature of the girl's claim that she had once witnessed a murder. Which of the party guests wanted to keep her quiet is a question for Ariadne's friend Hercule Poirot. But unmasking a killer this Hallowe'en is not going to be easy -- for there isn't a soul in Woodleigh who believes the late little storyteller was actually murdered.

- Synopsis from Goodreads

When a thirteen-year-old girl confesses that she had once witnessed a murder, would you believe her?

Of course, not. Silly and an utter lie.

That was the perception of everyone at Woodleigh Common when Joyce Reynolds boasted about having seen a murder. Later that evening at the Halloween party, she was found murdered: drowned in a bucket of water used for apple bobbing game. Hercule Poirot was called by his old friend, Ariadne Oliver, a famous murder/mystery novelist to investigate. Mrs. Oliver was a visiting guest at the party who happened to have heard Joyce's confession earlier that day... and it disturbed her to know that maybe Joyce really told the truth and that she was murdered because she saw something that she wasn’t supposed to.  What seemed like an investigation of a child's murder turned out to be a double-murder investigation and to Poirot, the key to solving Joyce's murder lies in one of the past murder cases...

It says in my copy that this book was originally published in the year 1969, which was considered one of Agatha Christie's later works. Having read her earlier novels so far, like The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Death on the Nile, I can see that there are differences in the method and tone used in her later novels. This is the first time I read Christie's novels that featured a child as the murder victim. Also here, Christie brought in references to the Greek mythology (and some Shakespeare too) with added tones of romanticism and evil. Current social issues being discussed, especially on crimes involving children.

And I can't help but wonder if the character Ariadne Oliver, the murder/mystery writer was actually a parody of Christie’s own self. Mrs. Oliver was quite a funny character, described in the novel as someone who likes to eat apples but after the incident she can't even hear of the word anymore.

As far as the storyline goes, this is rather an enjoyable read, though do not be fooled by the title. This is definitely not a Halloween-theme book. But a delightful read nonetheless. I had no idea whatsoever who the murderer was until the moment Poirot announced his discovery at the end. And I especially like the way the story wraps up.