The Big Four (novel)

From Academic Kids

The Big Four is a mystery novel written by Agatha Christie and published in 1927, starring Hercule Poirot. A paperback edition was re issued in New York by Berkley Publishing Group in 2001 with ISBN 0425098826. Its title refers to a team of four villains: a Chinese political mastermind, an American tycoon, a French nuclear scientist and a British assassin and master of disguise. The undercover plans of those four mysterious, untouchable individuals greatly threaten the world's safety.

In what can be called Poirot's widest-scale and most adventurous caper ever (indeed, Poirot himself refers to this case as the most important of his career), the Belgian detective discovers, hunts down, outsmarts and eventually thwarts the Big Four with cooperation from international authorities. The narrative of the book therefore is different than most Christie novels in that it is a series of short cases involving the Big Four rather than the investigation of a single crime.

The book also features Achille Poirot, Hercule's twin brother (later revealed to be Hercule Poirot himself in "disguise") and Countess Vera Rossakov, an agent of the Big Four that Poirot has met back when she was a jewel thief. It is implied that the Countess is Poirot's love interest, or at least something as close to that as makes no difference.

The book's colourful plot - involving fiendish Fu Manchu-esque villains, global conspiracies, undetectable poison, secret underground bases, masters of disguise, and so on - combines many of the fanciful characters and situations that Poirot's sidekick Captain Hastings would often think likely in other Poirot novels, only for the detective to reveal a much more prosaic solution. In this sense it is an atypical entry in the series, and can even be seen as parody; the affection Christie displays towards her characters and the gusto of her storytelling suggests that she is not only enjoying herself, but also fulfilling Hastings' long-held wish for a lurid and exotic adventure. Smacking of the best of Fleming and Buchan this is the crossover point at which lovers of Boys' Own tales can dip comfortably into Christie without fear of being bored and back out again. The Tommy and Tuppence novels also make comfortable bed-fellows in this genre which many consider Christie at her Quatre


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