Literary Wisdom

Literary Wisdom: Hercule Poirot Mysteries

Though Father Brown reignited my love for the literary mystery genre, Hercule Poirot fanned that spark into a lasting flame. Agatha Christie’s conceited little Belgian gentleman, constantly finding something to straighten and thus defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics, always manages to win my heart more thoroughly in every book that I read. Something about his personality, at once both fatherly and comical, combined with Agatha Christie’s smooth, clear prose, keeps me picking up another of his novels time and again, whether it’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Orient Express, or Death on the Nile. As you read this post, then, I hope you will be encouraged to twirl your already-impeccable moustaches, mutter to yourself in French, and call Hercule Poirot “mon ami,” all while saturating yourself in the finest insights his creator has to offer.

“Once a man is imbued with the idea that he knows who ought to be allowed to live and who ought not—then he is half way to becoming the most dangerous killer there is.” ~Cards on the Table

“I have known of—shall we say A?—being removed by B solely in order to benefit C. Political murders often come under the same heading. Someone is considered to be harmful to civilization and is removed on that account. Such people forget that life and death are the affair of the good God.” ~Death on the Nile

Those who call themselves “lord,” not only in living their lives but extinguishing those of others, do not have the sense to remember that they have not been created superior. Rights over life belong to the Creator of life–that’s why M. Poirot says that the one who attempts to give himself the power of God turns out to be “the most dangerous.” On a side note, that’s also why Satan is our greatest enemy–because he refused to submit to the true lord and make himself king.

“Do not open your heart to evil….Because—if you do—evil will come…Yes, very surely evil will come…It will enter in and make its home within you, and after a little while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.” ~Death on the Nile

The first step to becoming an evil person, I think, is not to submit to present temptation, but to be willing to do so, even when such temptations haven’t yet encountered you. When a man is willing to do evil, he will submit almost every time, and soon nearly all the goodness he previously had in his heart will disappear. Does not the Bible say that, if one turns from God and thus dulls his conscience, that God will give him over to his heart’s truest desires?

“The wages of sin are said to be death. But sometimes the wages of sin seem to be luxury. Is that any more endurable, I wonder?” ~Taken at the Flood

I believe sin and luxury can be closely interconnected, though death is the ultimate punishment for our wrongdoing. When we have all the comforts of the world, our salvation seems needless. The world seems to fill the gap until our time on earth runs out, and we find ourselves on the deathbed crying, “And I thought this world could satisfy!” The one who trusts in the Lord, then, can have much goods, but he cannot think those can save his soul. Eternity is always the best perspective.

“Mrs. Allerton’s eyes rested upon Tim and Rosalie, standing side by side in the sunlight, and she said suddenly and passionately: ‘But thank God, there is happiness in this world.’

‘As you say, Madame, thank God for it.'” ~Death on the Nile 

Without the story to provide context, this quotation is the most simple of that which I have decided to include in this post–yet I cannot think of a more fitting way to lead into the concluding paragraphs in Death on the Nile. Somehow–even though almost all, if not all, of the Poirot books are about murder–this story seems to be one of the darkest. Towards the end, there is hardly anything but insanity and gloom. The more formidable murderer is left with a laughing, pitiful carelessness of what she has done, remorse having completely escaped her mysterious psyche. And yet–there is still beauty. Tim Allerton and Rosalie Otterbourne (pardon the spoilers) fall in love, and the wonder of the Middle East still is present. Though I am not sure if Christie was a Christian, Hercule’s agreement with Mrs. Allerton provides a splendid, sweet signpost to the hope that lingers outside this world. 

And now for a funny quote:

“This street, it is not aristocratic, mon ami! In it there is no fashionable doctor, no fashionable dentist—still less is there a fashionable milliner! But there is a fashionable detective.” ~“The Adventure of the Western Star”

~Sarah Merly

July 28, 2018

Isaiah 53