A unique collection of stories featuring Hercule Poirot and linked by mythological figures and classical legend and lore. It's everything "Christie's admirers have come to expect" (New Yorker), including her fans' favorite detective in a dozen of his most unusual cases.
Destroying modern monsters, March 16, 2002 Reviewer: M. L. Worley from Kingdom of the Mouse, United States If you're interested in an unabridged audio version, the Raymond Massey recording is excellent, although it omits both the prologue and the last paragraph or so of the final adventure. In the prologue, Poirot plans, as an artistic finale to his career, to take 12 last cases - no more - in imitation of the Labours of Hercules, before retiring to grow vegetable marrows. (He even followed through - see _The Murder of Roger Ackroyd_ for Poirot in retirement.) "The Nemean Lion" - Poirot dreamed of a really grand case for his first labour - but the excellent Miss Lemon has recommended a man who wants Poirot to investigate the disappearance of his wife's Pekinese dog. Alas, it has one unusual feature that makes Poirot curious...This case is mentioned occasionally in later years (e.g. in _Hickory Dickory Dock_), though not by name. "The Lernean Hydra" - The many-headed monster, in this case, is the rumour that Dr. Oldfield poisoned his wife to be free to marry his assistant. Poirot begins by asking Miss Moncrieffe to introduce him to the biggest gossip in the village. Stripped of its trimmings, this case has the same core situation as the Marple story _The Blue Geranium_. "The Arcadian Deer" - When Poirot's hired car breaks down in the snow, Ted Williamson (a young mechanic with the face of a Greek god), approaches him, and asks him to find Nita, a pretty girl met by chance and never seen again. As lady's maid to a Russian dancer then staying with Sir George, she might be in a jam, considering the crowd that Sir George runs with... "The Erymanthian Boar" - His last case having brought him to Switzerland, Poirot receives a note from an old friend who's trying to capture alive the killer Marrascaud - a man with a wild pig's soul. "The Augean Stables" - The Prime Minister, Edward Ferrier, and his party forced Ferrier's father-in-law to retire when they uncovered his fiduciary misconduct - now they're asking Poirot for a miracle: to clean up the mess and avert a scandal that would destroy the party, now that _The X-Ray News_ has ferreted out the story. "The Stymphalean Birds" - Harold Waring, a rising young politician on holiday, feels uneasy about the two harpy-like spinsters at his hotel. But who are the real monsters who feed on human misery? (Poirot enters rather late in the story to sort things out.) "The Cretan Bull" - Hugh Chandler broke his engagement to Diana Maberly's engagement, fearing that he's inherited the streak of insanity that runs in his father's family. He left the Navy, but now he seems unsafe even for life in the country. So Poirot goes to see this young bull, once dedicated to Poseidon, when Diana insists that he can't be crazy. "The Horses of Diomedes" - The wild horses that eat human flesh - in this case, a ring of cocaine smugglers. Young doctor Stoddart puts him onto some of the recipients, having been called in to tend the wreckage from a particularly wild party. "The Girdle of Hyppolita" - In this case, a stolen work of that name by Rubens introduces Poirot to the case of a missing schoolgirl, which interests him very much indeed. (A tribe of modern Amazons, indeed.) She disappeared off the school train to France, just before arriving for her first term, leaving no trace. (If you want to see how Christie's mastery of her art, especially character development, improved over time, compare this with the much earlier "Case of the Kidnapped Prime Minister". Here she makes us *care* about what happened to the victim.) "The Flock of Geryon" - Miss Amy Carnaby (former companion to Lady Hoggin in the first labour) has come to Poirot, seeking help for Mrs. Clegg, a widowed friend who has joined a cult - the Flock of the Shepherd. Several wealthy women have died after leaving all their money to the Cause... "The Apples of the Hesperides" - Emery Power, a great financial force and a collector of historical works of art, believed for 10 years that Sir Reuben Rosenthal engineered the theft of his newly-purchased Cellini goblet (a gold cup, decorated with a serpent-and-apple tree motif, which once belonged to the Borgias). But Sir Reuben, now a business ally, didn't do it - so Power hires Poirot to recover the cup. ("If the affair were easy, it would not have been necessary to send for you.") "The Capture of Cerberus" - Poirot sees Countess Rossakoff in a crowd on the Underground, and calls out, asking where he can find her. "In Hell!" And upon asking Miss Lemon what she would do if a friend said that, Miss Lemon replies, "I should ring up for a table." (!) So we meet the Countess in London's most fashionable nightclub, and of course, adventure follows in her wake.