Most people prefer to read current books and best sellers. I tend to look for new authors and old authors. When reading an old author, it is important to realize the time context in which the author existed.
Agatha Christie (1890-1976) writes English mystery novels. Towards the end of her career, she dealt with the social changes of the 1960s. In Hallowe’en Party (1969), she writes about a world undergoing challenges to the social norms especially towards children. She dislikes the suggestion that children commit crimes mostly out of boredom, and their lack of respect towards other people. At the same time, an increase in sexual crimes against children horrifies her. She also touches on the sexual revolution engulfing society with a brief discussion on lesbianism.
Hallowe’en Party tells the story of a young adolescent, Joyce, murdered at a Halloween Party in a small English town. At this party, they still did things like bobbing for apples, and playing parlor games. Somebody drowned poor Joyce in a pail of water used for the apples.
Everyone in the town assumes it was a random act of violence, perhaps a sexual deviant. After all, they lurk behind every bush since the law doesn’t adequately punish them.
By this point in Christie’s career, she has a stable of characters to choose from. In this book, she calls on Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. Both her characters are aging, but still at the top of their game. Poirot is Belgian, and a bit of a dandy with patent leather shoes, derby, cane and waxed mustache. Ariadne is a famous mystery author with a Finnish detective. You may think Agatha has written herself into the story.
The duo team up to bring justice for poor Joyce, but not before her younger brother joins her on the River Styx. The story has many twists and turns to lead our sleuths astray. Is a random act of meanness? Has a pedophile run amok? Could it be money or love?
Like all Christie’s books, Hallowe’en Party is entertaining. Consider it forty-year-old cozy mystery book. It’s light and fun with a bit of social commentary. It is not a spooky book with ghosts and goblins, but it does have several murders, and a couple of villains.