I think “Curtain” (along with “Roger Ackroyd”) is Christie at her most fiendish. As usual, she tightly corrals her characters, here, coming full circle and using Styles once more, cramming the guesthouse with likely vics and perps. But as she reveals a killer beyond the law, Poirot is presented with a series of troubling moral dilemmas.
The ultimate revelation is ingenious and original. It surprises, but Agatha has played fair, all the clues are hidden in the text. On first reading, you thoughtlessly glide past the phrases that are significant. Only when you return to the pages enlightened, do they bellow out their secret.
The thing that dates it, making it seem a book born much before its publishing date of 1975, is the language of the relationships. Hastings now has a grown up daughter, Judith. He is intimidated by her haughty self-reliance and fearful her inexperience will lead to emotional shipwreck. She finds his attempts at guidance interfering, smothering and patronising. A timeless setup, relevant even now. But the over formal way Hastings expresses his own thoughts (“I was, you see, afraid of my tall, beautiful daughter”) and Judith’s particular brand of pompousness are unnatural to the modern ear.
Because of this, I long for it to be “Suchetised“. The sparkle of fresh words, spoken by charming actors. When it comes to the plot, though, I stand with Natalie Haynes. DON’T TINKER!
“when adapting a Christie novel, it would be sensible to remember that she was better at plotting than most of us will ever be, so maybe the addition of psycho lesbians doesn’t improve the story”