The Last Séance is a collection of spooky and mysterious short stories from Agatha Christie.
I feel bad criticizing Agatha Christie because honestly, who am I to do so? She’s the undisputed Queen of the mystery genre and her work is legendary to say the least! However, some of these stories just didn’t measure up to what I’ve previously read. In fact, many of them were a real slog to get through. And that’s on me as I find Christie difficult to read at times as some of these stories are creeping in at a hundred years of age. The further you get away from the original publication dates, the more dated dialogue, style and plots are going to feel. I’m sure that at the time, these stories may have lit the literary world on fire but they just felt dusty and tame by 2020 standards.
Now that I’ve truly drawn the ire of Christie-heads, let me calm things down by telling you I didn’t find all twenty stories boring. There were a few good ones in here like “The Fourth Man” (a story about a woman with suspected multiple personalities), a great Miss Marple story called “The Idol House of Astarte” and a tricky tale featuring Hercule Poirot (The Dream). My main issue comes down to the fact that this collection seems like sort of a cash grab. It was released around Halloween last year to obviously attract those looking for some spooky stories in October, but many seem to only have the bare minimum in association with the macabre.
I will say one thing about the Poirot stories – it’s endlessly impressive that Christie can take a character that usually requires a ton of set-up, multiple players and a seemingly unsolvable mystery and supply an equally satisfying conclusion in what normally takes a few hundred pages in just a handful.