“The Under Dog” is yet another book in the series of the well-known investigator Hercule Poirot.
Hercule Poirot is Belgian, but lives in London where he works as a private investigator. He is, with his egg-shaped head and enormous moustache, a strange figure. But don’t be fooled by his comic, almost ridiculous, apparent. You see, Hercule Poirot isn’t an average person. He notices every hesitating word, every glance, every look on your face. He is, as he self claims, an expert on the human nature.
A young woman contacts Poirot at his office in London. She presents herself as Lily Margrave, secretary of Lady Astwell. Lady Astwells husband, Sir Reuben Astwell, was murdered ten days ago. On the night of the murder Sir Astwells nephew, Charles Leverson, was overheard quarrelling with his uncle by the butler, whose room is directly below Sir Astwells tower room. The quarrel ended with a sudden thud. The morning after, Sir Astwell was found dead, struck down with a heavy object. The police have taken Charles Leverson into custody and the whole case seems quite obvious. But not for Lady Astwell, she is convinced that the murderer is her husbands secretary, Mr. Owen Trefusis. Her intuition tells her so.
Normally, Hercule Poirot wouldn’t take a case like this, but something in Lily Margraves voice tells him she really don’t want him to take the job. What is it she is hiding? Poirot arrives the big house where the murder was committed, and finds out that there is more to the story then he is told. Isn’t the fact that Victor Astwell visited his brother, the same week as the murder, after being gone for five years, a suspicious coincidence? Who was it Lily Margrave sneak out and meet when the others slept? Did the others really sleep? Didn’t Parson, the butler, have good reasons to dislike Leverson? What about Lady Astwell, doesn’t she need the inheritance? What happened in the house the days before the crime? Everyone becomes a suspect, and only the clever Poirot is able to solve the riddle, and confront the murderer.
“The Under Dog” is a typical crime story. As usually everyone can be the murderer, much because of the deceased being a complete asshole (as always). Besides, I could have told you after twenty pages that the solution had something to do with something happening long time ago (it always has). Most of all, I’m sick of crime-solutions where the murderer gets sympathy because of him being mistreated by the victim. Agatha Christie has written books which are much better then this one (“Ten Little Niggers” for example). The story is good enough, but hasn’t got that little extra to it. But, what really makes this book dull is the solution in the end and how Poirot figures it all out. A man is hiding behind the curtains, and Lady Astwell knew it all along, she had just forgot it! Her husband gets killed and she forgets that there is a man hiding behind the curtain, maybe he is just washing the windows? This is, of course, no problem for Hercule Poirot. He phones a friend in London (a hypnotists). All they have to do is to get Lady Astwell to sleep, and then ask her about the night of the murder. Miserable!