Cat Among the Pigeons – Agatha Christie
(Note: The copy I read was part of a series called the Agatha Christie Collection and included neither publisher or publication date inside the book, which is deeply irritating to me.)
Originally published in 1959
Meadowbank is not a place where one expects to find scandal. An elite English boarding school for the daughters of the wealthy and powerful, its reputation is secure in the hands of the indomitable Miss Bulstrode – until the gym mistress is shot on the school grounds. Did Miss Springer die for her own secrets, or was she killed to protect someone else’s? As the investigation unfolds, one thing becomes clear. The murderer isn’t done yet.
At the end of last year I reviewed another Poirot novel but as there are so many, and I’m not actually reading them in order, I haven’t included the series number on either. I’ve always held that Agatha Christie’s characters are grown up, screwed up versions of Enid Blyton protagonists and never is this more obvious than in an actual boarding school. The casual racism is, as ever, depressingly eye-opening but the sexism is balanced out by some unexpectedly progressive elements. Poirot is a bit more than fashionably late, not showing up until more than two thirds of the way through the novel, like the kind of guest star who takes over an episode of someone else’s show. Basically, this is the usual Christie blend of comfortable joviality and cool cynicism. It’s weirdly addictive.