The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

The May theme for Read Christie 2022 is “a story set in Europe” and The Murder on the Links is the perfect choice as the story takes place almost entirely in France.

First published in 1923, this is a very early Poirot novel (just the second in the series, in fact) and one of several to be narrated by Captain Arthur Hastings. Hastings, a close friend of Poirot’s, is on his way home to England from France when he meets a girl on the train who introduces herself only as ‘Cinderella’. For Hastings, it’s love at first sight, but when they part ways he doesn’t expect to ever see her again.

The next day, Hastings learns that Poirot has just received a letter from a Mr Paul Renauld requesting him to come to his home in France as soon as possible because he believes his life is in danger. The two set off at once, only to discover that Renauld had been murdered the night before, his body found on the new golf course which is under construction near his house. There are several suspects, but when Cinderella reappears and seems to have some involvement in the murder, Hastings will have to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to Poirot.

I enjoyed this, although I don’t think it’s one of the better Poirot novels I’ve read. None of the characters are particularly memorable or appealing; her characterisation would be stronger in later books in the series – maybe at this early stage she was still concentrating on developing the character of Poirot himself. In this book he has a rival – the French detective Monsieur Giraud – and we can see the contrast between their detecting methods. Poirot refers to Giraud as ‘a human foxhound’, someone who ‘sniffs out’ clues like footprints and cigarette ends while failing to see the bigger picture or to consider motive and psychology as well as physical evidence. Meanwhile, Giraud is equally scornful of Poirot’s approach to crime-solving. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which of the two detectives will eventually solve the mystery!

I usually like the books narrated by Hastings, who is a sort of Watson to Poirot’s Sherlock Holmes. He provides a viewpoint close to Poirot, while also being as mystified as we are by Poirot’s methods and deductions. I did find him slightly irritating in this book, with his tendency to instantly fall in love with every young woman he meets, but the romantic subplot does have a purpose as it leads to Hastings departing for Argentina, only to make occasional reappearances for the rest of the series.

Overall, this is a typically clever and entertaining Christie novel, but probably not one that I’ll be tempted to re-read. As a final note, don’t be put off by the many covers of this book that show people playing golf – apart from the golf course being the location of the dead body, golf has absolutely nothing to do with the plot!

15 thoughts on “The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

  1. mallikabooks15 says:

    Goodness. I realised I remembered little of the mystery or characters in this book except Hastings’ romance but am cheered by the fact that you found them not too memorable either. I will still revisit eventually since I do like rereading AC

    • Helen says:

      I think even the weaker Christies are usually entertaining. I’m not sure if I would want to read this one again, but there are a lot of others I’m looking forward to re-reading to see whether I can pick up on the clues the second time round!

  2. Cyberkitten says:

    I’m planning to hold off reading this (although I do own an old 1970’s copy) and other Poirot novels until I finish working my way through the Miss Marple series. I now have the 6th one so I’ll be reading that in the next few months.

  3. Nish says:

    I actually really liked the mystery here. Hastings and his Cinderella plot were kind of annoying, but the plot was fantastic. I never guessed the killer at all!

  4. FictionFan says:

    Another one I haven’t re-read for centuries! I was always a bit regretful about Hastings going off to Argentina – I always prefer the books he’s in. Happily with Hugh Fraser narrating, the audiobooks always feel like Hastings is there even when he isn’t!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, it’s a shame Hastings wasn’t in more books. I tend to prefer them too, even though this particular one hasn’t become a favourite.

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