RogerBW's Blog

Elephants Can Remember 06 February 2021

2006 audio adaptation of Christie's 1972 mystery, in a single 90-minute episode. Ariadne Oliver is buttonholed by a woman who wants to find out the truth about the deaths of her son's fiancée's parents, fourteen years ago; Poirot investigates.

This was the last Poirot that Christie wrote, and almost the last novel; the rather strange Postern of Fate followed the next year. For this reason it's a little odd to see such a hackneyed conceit as the core of the plot; as a modern reader of course when I hear a certain phrase I leap immediately to the correct conclusion and that's fair enough, but I rather fear that a reader in 1972 might well have done the same.

This adaptation does its best to downplay that obvious problem (not to mention the inconsistencies of time and other detail which plague the book), and has good byplay between Poirot and Oliver (John Moffatt and Julia McKenzie), making Poirot in particular just sympathetic enough that the listener goes along with the fairly flimsy excuses for digging up the dead past.

A 61,000 word book in 90 minutes, assuming a standard reading read of three words per second, gives this book a condensation ratio of 25%, on a par with The Pale Horse and rather lower than the 70-80% of The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Sittaford Mystery, but it doesn't feel as though anything important is missing. I wonder how the producers decided which stories would get the 150-minute treatment and which would be cropped to 90; so far I'm impressed by their choices.

See also:
The Pale Horse

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