My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Review: The Big Four

The Big Four The Big Four by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book: **
Performance: ****

A Departure from the Usual Fare

This story was originally published as 12 short stories for “The Sketch” magazine and latter cobbled together with an overarching plot based upon a cabal of “The Big Four” (4) uber villains bent on world domination … with the elusive Number Four (4) being an English master of disguise showing up in most of the stories. The other three (3) are a Chinese master mind, a French scientist and an American tycoon. Considering these were written at a time when the author was struggling to write, these were actually pretty good … if you are not a stickler for how Poirot was previously portrayed (the style here is less criminal detective and more international espionage similar to the famous Sherlock vs Moriarty matchup) … or if you don’t particularly like short stories (I actually find these classic detective stories well suited for the short story format). The benefit of the short format is that each part almost stands on its own with just the conspiracy of The Big Four tying it all together … the disadvantage is that there is very little discernible plot movement until the very end which feels a little forced and not really all that clever … making this story a fairly average classic (not her best work) that is actually made much better with the solid audible narration.

I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheBigFour #FreeAudiobookCodes

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.