After the excitement of a decent length trilogy I wanted to read something a bit shorter and more sedate. Returning to the world's favourite Belgian detective for the first time in almost two years seemed to fit the bill. And, luckily for me, my local library happened to have one of the series in that I hadn't read before.
The Big Four differs in style to other Poirot books that I've read. Rather than revolving round one key mystery it revolves around a key group of villains (no prizes for guessing how many bad guys are in the group). This means there are many distinct events spread over several months - definitely fitting my criteria of being more sedate. The resulting feel is of a series of short stories glued together, and since finishing the book I've found that it pretty much was that.
One major change since I last read a Poirot book is that I've fallen into the world of Sherlock Holmes. As Agatha Christie based her detective on Conan Doyle's it is easy to see how I kept falling into confused comparisons. Unfortunately the comparisons didn't reflect that well on the little Belgian. I suspect that it is this particular book that this is the case for though, as the style didn't really suit me.
The 'serial short stories' format meant that each mystery was on a smaller scale. The clues and observations in each distinct case were less meaningful than they would be in a larger case. This wasn't really helped by the fact that it's obvious each time that the Big Four will be behind it, which somewhat takes away the mystery element.
I feel somewhat as I did when I'd read The Final Problem - slightly cheated out of a puzzle and like I'd read about a detective's trip instead. But that particular Holmes short story did not stop me reading more, and I'm sure that this won't be the last Poirot book I try. Perhaps it's just the case that I didn't want a sedate read after all.