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Hercule Poirot is expecting a quiet evening in when his old friend, crime writer Ariadne Oliver, telephones in a very agitated state and makes an urgent request to see him. He soon discovers the reason for her visit is the very recent murder of a young girl named Joyce, who was drowned in a bucket of water whilst bobbing for apples at a Halloween party. Once he and Mrs Oliver arrive back at the scene of the crime, a large country house situated in the village where Mrs Oliver is staying with a friend of hers, Poirot learns that Joyce was murdered after revealing that she had been witness to a murder - could Joyce's revelation be connected to her death? Or was Joyce, an unpopular girl who had the reputation of making up stories, just trying to attract attention to herself? Of course, once Poirot is on the case, a whole lot of other revelations come to the fore - but who killed Joyce and does her murder have anything to do with other deaths that have previously occurred in the area?
A late Agatha Christie, first published in 1969 when the author was almost 80 years of age, this is a story that although kept me entertained on damp and drizzly October afternoon, was one I didn't enjoy quite as much as some of the author's earlier crime novels. Like at least one other reviewer writing here, I felt there was a little too much repetition about 'modern-day life' (long-haired, scruffily-dressed youths listening to loud music and taking drugs and so on and so forth) and how life had changed since the advent of the 1960s, which became a little wearing after a while. Also it was not very difficult to work out who the perpetrator of the crime was (although I didn't guess the identity of the murderer's accomplice until almost the end of the book) so there was no real surprise reveal for me. That said, this was still an entertaining and nostalgic reading experience (I first read this as a young adult in the 1980s) and although, as previously commented, I don't consider this to be one of Mrs Christie's better novels, this made an undemanding and enjoyable downtime read.