September's Book of the Month - The Murder on the Links

TuppenceTuppence City of London, United Kingdom admin

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.

But why is the dead man wearing his son’s overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse.

This month we're reading Agatha Christie's second Poirot novel, The Murder on the Links. Find out more here.

Leave your thoughts and questions about The Murder on the Links here. Is it one of your favourite Christie mysteries? 

Any questions? Please email generalenquiries@agathachristie.com
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Comments

  • This is a very complicated mystery full of subplots, a slew of clues, and miataken identities. I haven't read the book in YEARS but I remember the complicated plot. Actually I read the book only once. I did like the subplot with Poirot and Giraud and the wager they had. I did like where Christie got the idea for the book -- she got the idea from an newspaper article about a crime similar to the one she wrote about. So when a person asks how and where does a writer get his/her ideas the answer should be " anywhere, everywhere".


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
    I didn't like this 1st time round, recently re-read it to see if I liked it and don't.
  • @Tommy_A_Jones, what did you not like about the book? 


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
    I found it complicated, I couldn't understand which woman was who, The Plot bored me and I struggled with it from start to finish, it is in my view one of the weakest Poirot books with Hastings and one Christie I have no intention to read again, Twice is more than too much thank you.  
  • edited September 2016
    I found it complicated, I couldn't understand which woman was who, The Plot bored me and I struggled with it from start to finish, it is in my view one of the weakest Poirot books with Hastings and one Christie I have no intention to read again, Twice is more than too much thank you.  
    I think if Agatha offered her opinion of the book -- more specifically, told us what she would change looking back over the course of her career, I think she wouldn't have jam-packed "Links" with so much stuff. I remember in her autobiography she commented on how Murder At The Vicarage contained too many characters and I would also say too many subplots and they both go hand-in-hand. And I think she would she say something similar pertaining to "Links".

    She was ecstatic to send Capt. Hastings packing and she wouldn't have changed that part of the story!


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • edited September 2016
    I know in my experience when writing a story, there are times I want to jam-pack it with so much material -- subplots, characters, complications, motifs, and symbolisms -- and as I write the story I realize over the course of it that I need to lay off and allow the story to have some breathing space. And I realize that maybe this story doesn't need this subplot, that it doesn't need to be this complicated and perhaps I can add that subplot in another story. But you know what? You can have a story that is complicated and still allow it to have some breathing room and that is what Christie did with many of her books but with "Links" there is clearly too much going on. I'm currently reading NEMESIS which has a lovely complication but it's not one with too many clues, subplots, and characters like "Murder On The Links" or "Murder At The Vicarage" which I referred to in a previous post. If you need a timetable, a roster, or a list of characters and a description of them to keep track of who is who then there's a good possibility the story is too complicated.  

    By the time Christie wrote "Links",  she was still a fairly young writer with 3 books under her belt. And at this time she wasn't fully experienced as she would later become. Later on as she became more professional, refining the skills of her craft, she was able to identify the flaws of her earlier books which she didn't repeat in her later ones. The plethora of subplots and characters contained in a story were chucked and she gave her stories some breathing space, but never at the expense of making a good, complicated mystery with clues and red herrings in which the reader would not be able to ‘spot’ the murderer which she stuck to since she took on that bet from her sister, resulting in her first mystery "The Mysterious Affair At Styles"


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • GriseldaGriselda ✭✭✭✭
    I think what is wrong with Murder on the Links is the pace. It doesn't have the thrill and suspense. In fact, is the a problem with the Hasting books? People find fault with Peril at End House, although, in essence it has great ingredients and is difficult to solve. People would agree that the insight into Poirot's methods in 'Peril'  is brilliant, but does Hasting's style corrupt all the novels which he is involved in/narrates?

    The murderers in 'Links' are boring and archaic. I can't even remember the crime  motive, but it wasn't like a real-life motive. The book belongs to the capers category of Christie novels. These are all like early talkie movies and full of effects. The Man in the Brown Suit just about works from this point of view but the 'Big Four' type spy ones are poor, IMO.

    I don't know what Agatha Christie means about my favourite, Murder at the Vicarage. If there were any fewer characters it would be obvious who did it. This is because it is hardly going to be the SPOILER vicar, or his wife or adorable nephew, or else the narrator (the vicar) wouldn't have been feeling like writing the whole story up so cheerfully afterwards, and lacing his prose with humour. This only leaves Miss Marple and the ones so obviously indicated initially that it can't be them, (the actual murderers) and a few others. AC didn't know she was going to keep Miss Marple going at the time, so maybe she thought the reader might think it was her, but really, Lettice, Archer, the archeologist and Miss Cram, and Mrs Lestrange, that is not a long list compared with the ones for her finest works: Murder at the Vicarage and Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient....etc.
  • Griselda said:
    I think what is wrong with Murder on the Links is the pace. It doesn't have the thrill and suspense. In fact, is the a problem with the Hasting books? People find fault with Peril at End House, although, in essence it has great ingredients and is difficult to solve. People would agree that the insight into Poirot's methods in 'Peril'  is brilliant, but does Hasting's style corrupt all the novels which he is involved in/narrates?
    I don't think Capt. Hastings first person narrative corrupts or interferes with the stories. It sure doesnt get in the way of The ABC Murders which combines first and third person. I think having that third person narrative in that book added more suspense whereas if Hastings narrated the whole book the suspense would not have been as strong and we couldn't get a look into Alexander Bonaparte Cust and his mental processes and whereabouts. 


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States mod
    The Murder on the Links was partly inspired by a couple of prominent true-crime cases.  Here are my notes on the crimes:

    THE MURDER OF GEORGE HARRY STORRS

    THE HEADLINES : George Harry Storrs was a wealthy business magnate.  In 1909, Storrs was attacked in his country home and was fatally stabbed.  Storrs was not liked much by those around him, even his relatives and wife.  The only person who might have cared for him was Maria Hohl, a young woman who may have become his mistress and may have become pregnant by him, and did definitely die of drowning, possibly a suicide.

    Soon after Hohl drowned, Storrs started to receive letters warning him that his life was in danger.  Storrs took steps by engaging a capable friend to help protect him, and installing an alarm bell in his house.  A "dry run" of bell ringing infuriated the police, and when Storrs was genuinely attacked, the authorities refused to respond to the summons for help.  A local man, Cornelius Howard, was charged with the crime, but there was no solid evidence against him and he was found not guilty.  A second trial followed, this time for Mark Wilde, an individual with a reputation for violent behavior, but this case similarly led to an acquittal.

    THE NOVEL The death of Paul Renauld in The Murder on the Links has several points of similarity to the Storrs case.  In both cases, a man announces that he is about to be murdered and is later fatally stabbed.  Both victims face the consequences of a shady past.  And in both cases, someone is charged with the crime, exonerated at trial, and then a different person is arrested but soon released.  There, the similarities end- Christie had too much ingenuity to rip from the headlines too closely. 

    Another case of a man receiving threatening letters and then dying of stab wounds is in Murder on the Orient Express, although the parallels are substantially more oblique.







    THE THOMPSON/BYWATERS AFFAIR

    THE HEADLINES : In 1922, Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters were tried for the stabbing death of Thompson's husband Percy.  The Thompsons had allegedly been assaulted outside their home one night.  Edith received only minor injuries, but Percy was killed.  Edith implicated Bywaters, but when her love letters were found amongst Bywaters's possessions, Edith was arrested, too.  Bywaters confessed to his own culpability, but insisted that his paramour was completely innocent, despite her frequent declarations that she wished her husband was dead.  The jury thought that Bywaters was just being chivalrous, and both defendants were convicted and hanged.

    THE NOVEL : The Thompson/Bywaters affair occurred in the year before The Murder on the Links was published, so given the fame of the case, it seems probable that the Beroldy case in the book was impacted by the Thompson/Bywaters media circus.  In the book, a wealthy Frenchman named Beroldy was murdered years before the events of the book, and his wife and her lover were implicated.  Madame Beroldy was loosely bound and gagged in a presumed burglary, but evidence mounted against her and her boyfriend.  The lover, Georges Conneau, confessed to the fatal stabbing but fled the country.  Madame Beroldy was tried alone, but her impassioned testimony in defense of herself led to an acquittal.  Years later, this past crime leads to a new murder mystery.  Christie altered the location from England to France, and changed the outcome of the trial, but otherwise the similarities are evident.

  • When I think of the book THE MIRROR CRACK'D FROM SIDE TO SIDE, the situation with Marina Gregg and the German measles (rubella) and losing her child sounds all to familiar with actress Gene Tierney who experienced the same heartbreaking situation. With this particular situation she ripped from the headlines very closely.....but this time out of a very private, personal tragedy. 


    “People in the dark are quite different, aren’t they?”  ― A Murder Is Announced 
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