I'm sure everyone knows about the 1924 Club, brainchild of Simon and Kaggsy. I rarely join in with readalongs these days as I find them rather constricting, but this one grabbed my attention because I've been wanting to read more of Christie's novels and thought her earliest ones would be interesting. I nearly fell at the first hurdle because I started The Man in the Brown Suit and simply could not get on with it -- I found it irritating and confusing, and gave up after I'd read about a third. Luckily I'd ordered an omnibus edition which also contained this collection of short stories, only the third outing for Poirot, who'd previously appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Murder on the Links (1920 and 1923 respectively).
The stories were originally written for the Sketch magazine the previous year, and show Poirot still more or less at the beginning of his London career. He's living in a modest flat, his wonderfully efficient secretary Miss Lemon has not yet appeared in his life, and he works mainly as a private detective, though in one story -- 'The Kidnapped Prime Minister' -- he is employed by the British government. And of course he is accompanied in his investigations by his faithful friend Captain Hastings, who is the narrator of all the stories. Needless to say Hastings is no real help, though Poirot finds him useful for his perspective of the 'ordinary' man. Mostly, though, he gets completely the wrong end of the stick, with great comic effect. It's clear, however, that Poirot is deeply fond of him.
Needless to say, Poirot makes much use of his 'little grey cells', and solves several of the crimes by sitting quietly in his armchair and thinking about them. Of course many of his cases force him to travel around England, sometimes by train, and in 'The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb' he actually gets as far as Egypt, quite an adventure in itself, as he suffers so terribly from mal-de-mer. He also gets to Boulogne at one point, though that proves to have been unnecessary.
I've always been a Marple person myself, though I have much enjoyed watching the long running David Suchet series on TV. In fact all these stories ended up as episodes in the series, though you might not recognise them as they were often heavily revised. But I'm really glad to have met what we could call the early Poirot, and feel rather fonder of him as a result of reading these stories, so many thanks to Simon and Kaggsy for making me read them. Kaggsy has written an excellent review of this same collection which you can read here.