‘Five Little Pigs’ deals with the story of a woman who has been convicted and killed for the murder of her husband- the reputable bohemian artist Amyas Crale. Caroline Crale, his wife, is sentenced to death for poisoning her husband, by lacing his drink with the lethal poison coniine. While all the clues point towards Caroline Crale as having committed the crime, in a posthumous letter to her daughter, Caroline admits her innocence.
Caroline’s daughter comes into possession of her mother’s letter after coming of age. Upon reading its contents she asks the famous detective Hercule Poirot, to investigate the facts of the case and thereby rescue her mother’s name from ignominy.
After Poirot learns of all the facts, he concludes that there are five likely suspects. He likens their personas to the five little pigs of the nursery rhyme.
There is the long time family friend Phillip Blake (a stick-broker- ‘this little pig went to market’), his brother, the reclusive Meredith Blake (amateur herbalist-‘this little pig stayed at home’), Elsa Greer, Amyas’s greedy lover (‘this little pig had roast beef’), impoverished governess Cecilia Williams (‘this little pig had none’) and lastly, the wronged and disfigured step-sister of Caroline Crale-Angela Warren (‘this little pig cried all the way home’).
Sixteen years have passed, but Poirot is determined to unveil the truth behind the murder.
There are a number of people with motives: Caroline Crale was jealous of her husband’s affair with Elsa Greer and is therefore, the prime suspect.
As with all Christie novels, this mystery has you guessing till the last moment. The story is told beautifully from multiple personal narratives and points of view.
‘Five Little Pigs’ has a very good plot and this one in particular is all about understanding the psychology and emotions of the players.
I did miss Hastings and Inspector Japp, however, and Poirot’s musings were shown to a lesser extent than in other novels. Despite that, ‘Five Little Pigs’ is one of those Christies that must be read if you are a fan of her work.
Title: Five Little Pigs
Author: Agatha Christie
First Published: 1942
Setting: Alderbury Estate, Devonshire, England
Main Characters: Hercule Poirot, Amyas Crale, Caroline Crale, Elsa Greer, Phillip and Meredith Blake, Cecilia Williams, Angela Warren