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Summary

As instructed, stenographer Sheila Webb let herself into the house at 19 Wilbraham Crescent. It was then that she made a grisly discovery: the body of a dead man sprawled across the living-room floor.

What intrigued Poirot about the case was the time factor. Although in a state of shock, Sheila clearly remembered having heard a cuckoo clock strike 3.00. Yet, the four other clocks in the living room all showed the time as 4.13. Even more strange: only one of these clocks belonged to the owner of the house.

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©1963 Agatha Christie Limited, a Chorion Company. All rights reserved (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, UK

Critic reviews

"Deliberately fantastic." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"A sure-fire attention-gripper naturally." ( Saturday Review)
"Superlative Christie...extremely ingenious." ( The Bookman)
"Here is the grand-manner detective story in all its glory." ( The New York Times)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sue
  • Verwood, Dorset, United Kingdom
  • 22-07-08

Christie does it again

Once again Agatha doesn't disappoint with this cracking read. I found this one a little easier to unfold as the plot went along and I did guess the end but that didn't detract from the overall enjoyment.
Audio quality was good and the narration up to the usual expected standards.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Emma
  • Herts
  • 14-02-12

Agatha Christie at her best

I have recently been re-listening to Agatha Christie novels. I am especially a fan of the great Hugh Fraser reading the books. In 'The Clocks' you are left guessing until the end. I recommend this!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • x
  • callington, United Kingdom
  • 13-04-13

Excellent book

This is my second audible book. I started listening since I don't have much time for reading novels. At first I was still doubtful as to whether listening a book would give the same feeling as reading a book, but after this time, I got completed attracted by it. Either because of Hugh Fraser's appealing voice, or of Agatha Christie's amazing writing, or both? I don't know. It's just as fascinating as the solid paper is.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of her best

Our detective doesn't arrive until late in the story, nonetheless it is a brilliant story. I almost listened to it in one day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Clocks

Loved the narration. Not one of my favourite Agatha Christie books, but after hearing, I'm going to read it again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Time for murder...

When Sheila Webb is sent out by the secretarial agency for which she works to the home of a blind lady, Miss Pebmarsh, to take some dictation, she is not expecting to find the corpse of a dead man in a room filled with clocks of different styles, but all pointing to the same time – 4:13. In a state of shock, she runs screaming from the house, straight into the arms of Colin Lamb, who is in the street on secret business of his own. Colin is involved in the spy business, and will get together with Inspector Hardcastle to try to discover the identity of the dead man and of his murderer. And along the way, Colin will seek the help of an old friend of his father, a certain M. Hercule Poirot...

This is one of Agatha Christie’s later books, written in 1963. Although nearly all of her books are well worth reading, there’s no doubt that by this period she was no longer producing novels of the same standard as in her own Golden Age, roughly the late ’20s to the end of the ’50s. In this one, which I hadn’t re-read for many years, I found I enjoyed the journey considerably more than the destination.

The set-up is great – the idea of the clocks is a suitably baffling clue, and the scene of the discovery of the body, where blind Miss Pebmarsh nearly steps on it by accident sending poor Sheila into a state of hysterical shock, is done with all Christie’s skill. There’s all the usual fun of interviews of the neighbours, and Christie creates a bunch of credible and varied characters, who each add to the enjoyment of the story. We also get to see life in the secretarial agency, a career that I assume has more or less died out now, certainly in the sense of girls being sent out on brief assignments to take dictation and so on.

It’s also a pleasure when Poirot becomes involved, though that doesn’t happen till almost halfway through the book. Poirot is elderly by now, so doesn’t take an active part in the investigation, instead relying on Colin bringing him information. It works quite well, and Colin is a likeable character, but my preference is for the books where Poirot is more directly involved. There’s a nice little section when Poirot lectures Colin on detective fiction, referencing a mix of real and fictional authors. I suspect Poirot’s views give an insight into what Christie herself though of the various styles.

Perhaps it was because I was listening rather than reading, but I didn’t find this one as fair-play as her earlier books – it seemed to me rather as if Poirot summoned up the solution based on instinct rather than evidence, leaving me rather unconvinced in the end. It feels as if Christie ran out of steam somewhat, and having thought up an intriguing premise, couldn’t quite find an ending that lived up to it. The ending left me feeling a bit let down but, as I say, I enjoyed the process of getting there.

What worked less well was the secondary story – Colin’s search for some kind of spy. Again some of this is down to preference – I’ve never been so keen on Christie’s occasional forays into spy stories as her straight mysteries. But I also again felt that Colin reached his solution out of the blue, and the tying together of the two plots contained too much coincidence for it all to feel wholly credible.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does his usual excellent job of giving all the characters subtly different voices and suitable accents, without distracting from the story by overacting any of them – i.e., no falsetto women, etc.

Overall, then, not one of Christie’s best, but still well worth a read or re-read for fans. It wouldn’t be one I would suggest as a starter to her work, though – there are glimpses of the old magic, but it doesn’t show her off as the genius of plotting she undoubtedly was in her prime. 3½ stars for me, so rounded up.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lovely performance as always!

Classic Christie done beautifully by Hugh Fraser. Looking forward to the next one in my library.

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  • Fiona
  • Oxfordshire
  • 21-02-17

Perfect Christie!

What's not to love about this audiobook?
It's a wonderful story - keeps you guessing all the way through - of course it does, that's what Agatha Christie does best.
It's very much of its time, and I love that. The narration is perfect for that, and the whole things makes a charming listen.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jane Ng
  • 05-11-09

Disappointing

The aging Hercule Poirot makes guest appearances as an armchair consultant, but since the other two detectives are quite charmless, this isn't Agatha Christie's most interesting work. Rather disappointed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mr kieran j murphy
  • 26-05-18

excellent

a very good example of Agatha Christie's Poirot books. wonderfully read by Hugh Fraser as usual.