It was never really my intention to grab this book. In fact, I picked it up by mistake, assuming it to be something else, rather than what it is. As some of you may know, my friend (she has her own blog too if you’re interested!) is really into Agatha Christie and so I’ve also been reading some of Ms. Christie’s work. While she doesn’t quite rank as one of my favourite authors, I can always depend on her for a solid read. So when I was at the library looking for some new reading material, I chanced upon the Agatha Christie collection. A lot of her more popular books were already taken and from the remaining books, I found myself drawn to this. The book cover stated it was about supernatural stories. I’ve already raved about one of her supernatural stories, Endless Night, so I figured I’d like this too. However, what I failed to realize, was that this book was actually a collection of short supernatural stories, rather than being one huge story. Now, I’m not really a picky reader, in terms of genres. But I am pretty big on having a cohesive, thoroughly fleshed-out, well written plot. And unfortunately, the short story format doesn’t really allow for that, or at least I think not if I go by this book.
The Hound of Death, contains a selection of stories, ranging from supernatural to simple detective work. Each story is unrelated and about different topics. I actually quite enjoyed some of the stories, but found others to be lacking. As a result, this book took me two weeks to get through, simply because I didn’t really like reading it.
Firstly, the book opens up with a small supernatural mystery called the Hound of Death. It talks about the idea of an alternative reality/ past wherein people had powers, a new religion of sorts, and some dangers of it. In other words, it was actually a really, really interesting beginning to what could have been a fantastic fantasy novel. Unfortunately, as this is a short story, this does not happen. Instead, the mystery is remarked upon and then the story ends. And this was actually my main problem with the book. A lot of the stories just ended like that. Without any further development or any real resolution. I suppose that’s the nature of short stories (and mystery short stories). In any case, I didn’t like it. I just continually felt so incredibly annoyed and peeved whenever the story would just end. This was especially the case in the first story because you could just see the potential it had. And yet, nothing happens. The same thing happened with quite a few other ones.
And this isn’t limited to her more fantastical or supernatural stories because it happens in some of her more detective based stories as well. For example in SOS, a man comes in and unwittingly begins investigating what seems to be a supernatural event but turns out to be a more tangible murder mystery. And as the short story format designates, all of the action happens within a day. I just, I really didn’t like it. I would’ve much preferred longer, more in depth stories than the small short stories. I could just imagine reading this story as its own book, like a general Agatha Christie novel.
That said, I will say that some of the mysteries are interesting to read. They range from comical, to sad, to creepy, to confusing. In some stories, you go from having supernatural occurrences to end up with something not supernatural. While it others, it goes in the opposite direction. And still in others, it remains supernatural from beginning to end. It really is quite interesting. But personally, I still felt quite let down. I think I’m just not really one for short stories. Or at least not one for mystery supernatural short stories.
My rating: Read it if you’re curious about Agatha Christie’s writing talent or like mysterious supernatural short stories, but you can skip it otherwise.