Agatha Christie's POIROT (Set 9)

Starring: David Suchet, Hugh Fraser

Director: Ross Devenish, Edward Bennett

Format: DVD - Three one-hour episodes. (Also available on VHS)

Genre: Mystery/drama

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

I have to admit, I wasn't immediately drawn to this mystery series. I only turned to it after viewing all of my other favorite PBS Mystery! and BBC mysteries too many times to count. I had seen bits and pieces of the Peter Ustinov Poirot films and felt they dragged on a bit too long for my taste. I felt the same about the David Suchet Poirot films. Sometimes you just don't need two hours to solve a mystery.

No matter, when I caught a few of the one-hour episodes on late night televison, I found myself warming to this enchanting Belgian detective and his companion, Captain Hastings. "The little grey cells" as Poirot refers to his brain and his capacity to solve the most complicated crimes through observations and thinking, rather than brawn, makes this series a delight to watch and re-watch over and over again. No wonder it was one of the most popular mystery series on PBS Mystery! when it was shown. (It is now also popular on the A&E cable channel, but I have yet to figure out its schedule. You'll just have to check your local listings each week the same as I do if you want to catch it on television.)

Set number nine, in the DVD releases includes three stories. "Dead Man's Mirror," "Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan," and "The Adventure of the Clapham Cook." I chose to begin with this DVD because I had not seen any of these stories. I've now seen each story several times and I continue to enjoy them, although I can barely say who is the criminal in any of them. I get so wrapped up in watching Mr. Poirot that I lose track of who is the bad guy, or bad woman, as the case may be. I enjoy the touches of humor and the interplay between the regular characters; Poirot, Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp, and Miss Lemon. (I miss Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon when they are not involved in Poirot's endeavors as is the case in some of the other stories not reviewed here.)

"Dead Man's Mirror" involves an unusual request for Poirot to investigate a possible fraud. Before he can begin, an apparent suicide demands his attention. In "Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan" Poirot must discover how a thief managed to steal a valuable necklace from its guarded hiding place. "The Adventure of the Clapham Cook" brings Poirot another unusual case when he is hired to find a missing domestic by a puzzled employer who wants her cook back.

In addition to the nine sets currently available on DVD, a tenth set is scheduled to be released on October 5th containing three more stories. In "Murder in the Mews," murder is made to look like suicide. In "The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly" Poirot is hired to investigate threats against a country squire's young son. And in "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" Poirot's culinary know-how is useful in solving a murder case.

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