The Big Four

The Big Four Book


Captain Hastings returns to England after 18-months in Argentina, only to find his old friend Hercule Poirot about to leave himself for South America. However, an unexpected visitor comes in and dramatically collapses on the floor. The only clue to what he wants is his saying Poirot's name (his only words) and writing the number 4, many times...International crime cartels, a Chinese mastermind and of course, our favourite Belgium sleuth make this a book of intrigue and suspense.


Another Poirot novel, this is his fourth appearance in a novel.

when to read

This isn't really set at any particular time in the year but for me it's a snuggle up and feel cozy book. The concepts of an international crime cartel just make me want to be safe and sound at home.

espionage/ mystery


Initially set in London this novel sees Poirot travel to various locations in the south of England as well as France and Belgium.

Publishing info

Published in 1927 - Agatha Christie's 7th novel.

overall rating


On Screen

Watching Agatha Christie

The Big Four by Agatha Christie was filmed as part of the ITV feature length episodes and is Season 13 episode 4 starring David Suchet as Poirot. 

The Big Four Character List

Abe RylandThe ‘American Soap King’, supposed richest man in the world
Achille PoirotPoirot’s supposed twin brother
Ah LingChinese servant to Mr Paynter
Ariadne OliverMystery writer
Arthur LevershamAuthor of letter sent to Abe Ryland
Austen Foly/ Austen Lee/ Ernest Luttrell/ John St MaurUnseen suspects for the character of ‘The Destroyer’
Betsy AndrewsHousekeeper for Jonathan Whalley
Captain Arthur HastingsFriend of Poirot
Captain HarveyAgent of the British Intelligence Service
Captain KentMember of United States secret service
Chief Inspector James JappScotland Yard detective
Claude DarrellEnglish actor
Colonol ApplebyAmerican secretary to Aby Ryland
Countess Vera RossakoffRussian aristocrat
DeansAbe Ryland’s valet
Dr QuentinDoctor blamed for death of Mr Paynter
Dr RidgewayPoirot’s doctor
Dr SavaronoffBest chess player in the world
Dr TrevesHost of a dinner at the Templeton’s
Felix LaonMan who attacks Hastings in Paris
Flossie MonroOld friend of Claude Darrell
Gerald PaynterArtist, Mr Paynter’s nephew and air
Gilmour WilsonYoung American chess champion
Inspector MeadowsPoliceman investigating death of Jonathan Whalley
JamesAbe Ryland’s footman
John HallidayScientist who disappeared
John InglesRetired civil servant
Jonathan WhalleyVictim of the Big Four
Joseph AaronsTheatrical agent
Li Chang YenChinese leader and mastermind
Mabel PaynterHospital nurse
Mademoiselle ClaudeAn assistant to Ariadne Oliver
MickeyMrs Templeton’s son from a previous marriage
Miss MartinAbe Ryland’s stenographer
Monsieur DesjardeuxPrime Minister of France
Monsieur HenriAn assistant to Ariadne Oliver
Mr BronsonManager at Arthur Hasting’s ranch in Argentina
Mr HalseyArranges the interview between Poirot and John Ingles
Mr HodgsonPoirot’s solicitor
Mr McNeillPoirot’s solicitor
Mr MeyerlingFormer member of the secret service and victim
Mr Paynter55 year old bachelor
Mr Saunders 
Mr TempletonOlder gentleman who falls ill
Mrs HallidayWife to John Halliday who disappeared 
Mrs PearsonPoirot’s landlady and housekeeper
Mrs TempletonMr Templeton’s wife
Pierre CombeauAn old friend of Poirot
Professor BorgobbeauParisian Scientist
Robert Grant/ Abraham BiggsManservant to Jonathan Whalley
Sonia DaviloffDr Savaronoff’s niece and housemate
Sydney CrowtherHome Secretary and friend of Poirot


So many!

Johnathan Whalley, Mr Paynter, John Ingles, Gilmour Wilson and Flossie Monro to name a few.

Well they may not all be cited as murderers exactly but the ‘culprits’ are The Big Four who are: Abe Ryland, Madam Oliver, Li Chan Yen, Claude Durrell

The Big Four are creating a super weapon and try everything to keep their plan on course. The killings are all linked to the creation of the weapon and/or keeping the identities of the Big Four hidden.

The Big Four are certainly imaginative… 

Johnathan Whalley is hit on the head and then has his throat cut.

Mr Paynter is poisoned with yellow jasmine.

John Ingles is pushed overboard on a ship

Gilmour Wilson is electricuted

Miss Monro is hit by a car

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