Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was born to a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon, England.  She served in a hospital during the First |World War before she married and started her family in London.   Although initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, in 1920, The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which, like this book, featured the Belgian detective Poirot. That launched her literary career.


Elephants Can Remember  is another work of detective fiction, featuring Poirot, by Agatha Christe.  The book was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1972.

It features her not only the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and her recurring character Mrs Ariadne Oliver. The novel is notable for its concentration on memory and oral testimony.

This is my least favorite of all the Poirot novels. It seems to possess all the necessary elements: a complicated mystery,  little clues that do not seem at first relevant, some humour , a love story between two young people, and, of course, Poirot himself.  Despite all these elements, the entire book read  like someone attempting to write in the style of Agatha Christie.  I suppose, to me it felt like it was structured more like a drama than a novel.  Indeed, I had seem a television movie of it before I read the book.


The story starts at a literary luncheon, Mrs Burton-Cox, approaches Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, a school friend of the late Margaret Ravenscroft.  Mrs Burton-Cox’s son, Desmond is engaged to be married to Celia Ravenscroft.  Mrs Oliver was friendly with the Ravenscroft family and is godmother to the girl. Mrs Burton-Cox asks Mrs Oliver what she believes is an important question: which of Celia’s parents was the murderer, and which was murdered?

Hercule Poirot is determined to solve this old husband and wife double murder that is still an open verdict.   As he stands on the cliff-top, where, many years earlier, there had been a tragic accident, he considers all he has learned from those who remember that time.  The accident was followed by the grisly discovery of two more bodies  Mr and Mrs Ravenscroft had been shot dead.Poirot needs to know who had killed whom or if it was  a suicide pact.  Perhaps it was simply cold-blooded murder. Poirot delves back into the past and discovers that ‘old sin can leave long shadows’.

I enjoy this genre and normally enjoy Agatha Christie books, but this was an exception to the rule.  Other Agatha Christie books are reviewed on this site: bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/the-hollow-by-agatha-christie/: bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/peril-at-end-h…gatha-christie/: bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/evil-under-the…gatha-christie/:  /bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/why-didnt-they…tha-christie-2/ ‎https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/five-little-pi…gatha-christie/




  1. Not one of her best books, I don’t think……


  2. christiepro

    One of my favorites. The solution is so sad and the hole novel very melancolic and full of nostalgia.


    • Valerie Penny

      There are so many great novels by Agatha Christie to choose from, aren’t there kurtvictor?
      Thanks for sharing your views.


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