Famous Investigators - Hercule Poirot

6 October 2021

Another fictional character who gave life to private investigations is none other than Hercule Poirot.

The Belgian investigator is the main character in 33 detective novels, 2 plays and over 50 short stories written by Agatha Christie and published between 1920 and 1975. He has been played by many actors, both on the small and big screen or on the radio, but the face with which the Romanian public associates him best is that of the British actor David Suchet (photo).

But what is a Belgian, retired police officer turned into private investigator, looking for in England? One possible explanation is related to the political situation and the moment when Agatha Christie writes the novels.

In World War I, Germany declared war on France. To avoid French defenses concentrated along the common border, the Germans intended to cross Belgium and attack France from the north. Because the Belgians, who were neutral, did not want to allow them access to their country, Germany invaded Belgium on August 4, 1914. A few hours later, Britain declared war on the Germans. Why? Because the ports of Belgium were very close to the coast of the British kingdom, and if Germany won and had control over them, the British would be in danger.

At the time Agatha Christie was writing the novels, it was a sign of patriotism to show sympathy for the Belgians, whose invasion had been the reason for Britain’s entry into the war.

For over 30 years, even the writer who created him has come to consider Hercule Poirot arrogant, selfish, and far too full of himself. His audience, however, loved the one considered to be “detestable” and Agatha Christie continued to write about the investigator’s adventures.

His investigative techniques were based on increased attention to detail and logical deductions. His main goal was to make people speak freely, and for that he did not hesitate to invent characters, relatives, or friends, depending on what he needed to know at that time. In addition, he pretended not to speak English well and emphasized his status as a foreign citizen, so that people would underestimate him and let his guard down in his presence.

The Belgian investigator was obsessed with cleanliness and order. Some have said he suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Others, that he was just extremely pretentious. “I find it unbearable that each hen lays an egg of different sizes! What other symmetry can there be on the breakfast table?!”, the Belgian asks in one of the novels.

Hercule Poirot is the only fictional character to receive an obituary on the front page of The New York Times in 1975, after the publication of his latest novel, Cortina: The Last Case of Poirot.

Many police fiction writers were inspired by the reality of private investigation agencies, such as SPIA Romania, in order to outline their characters as truthfully as possible. If Hercule Poirot or another fictional private detective aroused your curiosity about the real work of a specialized investigation company, we invite you to find out more about what a private investigator does.