The Hollow

The Hollow "The charming and eccentric Lucy Angkatell has invited the Cristows, along with a number of other members of the extended family. John is already having an affair with Henrietta Savernake, a talented sculptor and, as is demonstrated by what follows, brilliant improviser. He has always remembered with nostalgia an early love, Veronica Craye, who suddenly appears in the house on Saturday night asking to borrow a box of matches. She is living at one of the two nearby cottages, the other of which is currently occupied by Hercule Poirot, who has been invited for lunch on Sunday. Veronica and John go off together, and he returns much too late: 3 am.The next day, Poirot arrives at the house to witness a scene that seems strangely staged. Gerda is standing with a gun in her hand above the body of John, who is bleeding into the swimming pool. Standing, seemingly transfixed, are Lucy, Henrietta and Edward. John’s last word, in a note of urgent appeal, is “Henrietta”. It seems cut and dried that Gerda is the murderess, but in taking the revolver from her hand Henrietta apparently fumbles and drops it into the swimming pool, destroying any evidence. Later, however, it is discovered that the pistol that Gerda had been holding was not the pistol with which John had been shot. None of the witnesses has actually seen Gerda shoot John, and it seems difficult to build a case against any of the other potential suspects. At first Lucy herself seems to be a strong suspect, when it is discovered that she had kept a pistol concealed in her basket of eggs, but the pistol seems to be of the wrong calibre. Henrietta is also implicated, not least by the leaving of an unusual doodle in the pavilion, apparently at the time that John and Veronica had been there. When the murder weapon turns up in Poirot’s hedge, it has fingerprints on it that match none of the suspects.These are all pieces of deliberate misdirection on the part of the family. They know in fact that Gerda is indeed the murderess, and are attempting to avoid her imprisonment. As it happens, the murder, with a motive of jealousy, was planned, in that she had taken with her two pistols, planning to be discovered with a pistol in her hands that would later be discovered to be the wrong weapon. Henrietta destroys the evidence of the first weapon instinctively, and later goes back and retrieves the second weapon. She hides it in a clay sculpture of a horse in her workshop, then gets it handled by a blind match-seller, and places it in Poirot’s hedge.There is a romantic subplot in the novel. Midge is in love with Edward, but Edward has always been in love with Henrietta. During the course of the novel, Edward realises that he loves Midge and asks her to marry him. During a walk to an area where Edward has walked with Henrietta, Midge believes that he is too deeply in love with Henrietta still, and she calls off the wedding. Later that night, however, she saves Edward’s life when he attempts suicide by putting his head in a gas oven. With this rather dramatic proof of his need for her, she relents and the wedding is on again.With all the evidence apparently destroyed, the family believes that it has saved Gerda, but there is one final clue: the holster in which the murder weapon was kept. Gerda has cut this up and placed it in her workbag. When Henrietta attempts to retrieve it in order to destroy the final means of proving Gerda’s guilt, Poirot arrives and prevents her from drinking tea that Gerda has poisoned. Gerda herself drinks the poisoned tea and escapes justice by this means.Henrietta who, along with Lucy, has emerged as an attractive and well-characterised heroine throughout the book, ends it by visiting in hospital one of John’s patients who now has little hope of a cure but still shows a resilient spirit. Leaving the hospital, she reflects that there is no happy end for her, but she resolves to embark on a sculpture of herself as Grief."

Authors: Agatha ChristiePages: 417     Year: 1946

Tags: agatha detective christie

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