Halloween Party was first published in 1969 and once again re-unites Ariadne Oliver (the crime writer) and Hercule Poirot. Although the books never give specific dates, it is clear form this book that Poirot is older and possibly nearing the end of his working life. In fact, towards the end of the novel there is a breief discussion as too whether Poirot was so old he was senile. As the story proves Poirot's "little grey cells" were still in fine form.
The book contains some fascinating flashes of a modern World crashing in on Agatha Christie's more recognisable quintessentially English World. There is quite some discussion amongst several characters of a rising tide of murders committed by mentally deranged criminals that asylums were too full to hold. There is stark imagery of dead children being found in gravel pits and a concern that justice no longer favoured the victims but allowed the criminals to go free to create more victims.
As it is a Poirot novel it is also quite odd for some of those features of a modern World to feature. One doesn't immediately asscoiate Poirot with a World containing motorways, computers, pop stars or even supermarkets yet each of these appear or are referenced and therefore give the story a very disconcerting element.
Given that she was writing it in the sixties, Agatha would have been aware of the rapid change taking place around her. In 1967, hanging came to an end and those who supported it foresaw rising levels of lawlessness as a result. The Beatles were dominating the charts and that might explain some of the references to pop stars and then there were child murders such as the Moors Murders. The M1 was opened in the early sixties and other motorways followed and supermarkets rapidly replaced old fashioned grocers stores as brands such as Sainbury's and Tesco's spread.
The plot itself centres on the murder of a child at a Halloween Party who some hours before had boasted of seeing a murder some years before. Ariadne Oliver is at the party and duly calls upon Hercule Poirot to come to her assistance. There then follows a rather leisurely investigation which in the last pages ramps up to a denouement that would be at a home in a more modern novel.
It wouldn't rate as her best novel BUT it certainly proves that towards the end of her life she was able to produce thrillers of superb quality.
To listen to a great radio adaptation of the book click below: