Book Review: After the Funeral

I don't know what happens in real life when a wealthy man passes away, except that his surviving relatives may turn up for his funeral and offer their condolences. Not in Agatha Christie's After the Funeral. She makes it a venue for assembling a large number of people who don't see eye to eye, secretly harbouring evil thoughts and grudges towards others to the extent that they are willing to murder them if need be. Thus when the dead man's sister Cora makes an extraordinary remark "But he was murdered, wasn't he?" at the gathering and she herself ends up brutally bludgeoned to death in her home the next day, the family solicitor finds the circumstances suspicious enough to call on his friend, who else but Hercule Poirot, to unscramble the mystery behind their deaths. The story is classic Christie fare, by which I mean it's unexpected and surprising, all made even more engrossing by her subtle use of red-herrings and cleverly staged reveals that proves her mastery with plotting, pacing and characters. Also perhaps the only novel featuring Poirot in which lesbianism is alluded to as a "feverish feminine friendship."