Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot by Agatha Christie, edited by David Brawn

The minute you saw the phrase "Little Grey Cells" you knew it was about Hercule Poirot, didn't you? Mystery readers would recognize the phrase that identifies the man who is aware of his own abilities. "My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world."  David Brawn edited Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot, a collection that includes two pieces Agatha Christie wrote about her detective, as well as quotes from the various stories.

Perhaps the most interesting section of the entire book is Christie's introduction about Poirot. She already had the plot of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Now, she needed a detective. It was 1914, and there were Belgian refugees throughout England. So, she decided to make her detective a Belgian refugee, a "former shining light of the Belgian Police force". Her piece about him was written in 1938, and she discusses his use of psychology in his cases, and the importance of method and order to him. And, she includes a comment reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's feelings about his own detective. "Why-why-why did I ever invent this detestable bombastic, tiresome little creature?"

Little Grey Cells is a charming, gift-sized collection. Brawn breaks the book down into chapter such as Poirot's comments about "Food & Drink", "Detective Work", "The Criminal Mind". Each chapter includes short quotes, and then identifies the work in which it appeared. For instance, in Curtain, Poirot says, "The cooking, it is English at its worst. Those Brussels sprouts so enormous, so hard, that the English like so much. The potatoes boiled and either hard or falling to pieces. The vegetables that taste of water, water, and again water. The complete absence of the salt and pepper in any dish." In The ABC Murders, Poirot claims "I am better than the police." The quotes are often intriguing enough to entice the reader to look for the book or short story.

Little Grey Cells is a small book, but it includes an excellent reference, lists of the Hercule Poirot novels and short stories. Looking for a gift for the Agatha Christie fan in the family? You might have just found the perfect little gem.

Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot by Agatha Christie, edited by David Brawn. William Morrow. 2015. ISBN 9780062425171 (hardcover), 160p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

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