#18 – The Hound of Death

A collection of short stories, almost all with a supernatural element, and mostly a supernatural explanation.

1. The Hound of Death – a doctor investigates whether a nun destroyed a convent full of German soldiers during the war using psychic powers.

2. The Red Signal – which of three men should heed the warning not to go home?

3. The Fourth Man – a discussion between a clergyman, doctor, and a lawyer is interrupted by a stranger who knows much more than they do.

4. The Gipsy – why is Dickie Carpenter so afraid of gypsies?

5. The Lamp – Mrs Lancaster takes a haunted house.

6. Wireless – due to a cardiac weakness Mrs Harter is advised to lead a quieter life so her nephew buys her a radio.

7. Witness for the Prosecution – a solicitor is concerned when his client’s alibi starts to unravel.

8. The Mystery of the Blue Jar – why does an unimaginative young man hear a cry for help at the same time every day?

9. The Strange Case of Sir Arthur Carmichael – or the Curious Incident of the Cat in the Night-Time.

10. The Call of Wings – a contented millionaire is shaken to the core by a road accident and its aftermath.

11. The Last Seance – is Elise right that someone will have to pay for her employer’s mediumistic activities?

12. SOS – is a message written in the dust from the past, present or future?

I might have read this before, but if so, none of the stories can have made that much of an impression upon me. A couple of the supernatural stories have quite creepy ideas behind them, but even in one of those it was obvious to me what was going on from very early on. One story benefits from being surrounded by the others as it does have a rational explanation but the reader has been conditioned to expect a supernatural solution.

The only possible saving grace is the inclusion of The Witness for the Prosecution, probably Christie’s best known short story as she later adapted it into a play, which was then filmed starring Marlene Dietrich, but it doesn’t belong in this collection in any way at all.

Unless you are a completist, give this one a miss and find The Witness for the Prosecution in a different collection.

Signs of the Times

“The Hound of Death” has several First World War references. Uhlans were German cavalrymen who were dismounted early in the war. German forces undoubtedly killed and displaced a significant number of Belgian citizens during their occupation, but these atrocity stories were greatly exaggerated by the British to encourage enlistment into the army. The British army won an important victory at Mons and rumours of angels assisting them started to spread after a short story featuring phantom archers from the fifteenth century battle of Agincourt was taken for truth.

Sir Alington West is an alienist (2). This is a now old fashioned name for a psychiatrist but is sometimes still used for those who determine whether a defendant is mentally competent to stand trial.

Jack Trent won the VC for saving Dermot West’s life (2). The Victoria Cross is the highest award of the British honours system given for acts of valour in the presence of the enemy. I had believed that most VCs were awarded posthumously but this is only true for 295 out of a total of 1,358. Three men have received a bar (a second award of the same honour) to their VC.

I was surprised by the use of Alistair as a woman’s name (4).

The lines quoted in “The Lamp” are from “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.

The violins of Rienzi (10) refers to the 1842 opera by Richard Wagner.

Professor Roche is from the Salpêtrière (11). L’hôpital universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière is a teaching hospital in Paris tracing its origins back to 1656.

Vintage Reading Challenge

Fulfils “What – an animal in the title”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#17 – Lord Edgware Dies

Although he does not normally touch domestic cases, Poirot is persuaded by the actress Jane Wilkinson to discuss a possible divorce with her husband which he has previously refused to grant.

Poirot is therefore surprised when she is arrested for  Lord Edgware’s murder as he had now agreed to divorce her – although no one else was yet aware of this fact – and she was out to dinner at the time of the crime – although this was due to a late change of plan.

With witnesses prepared to swear that Jane did visit her husband on the night of the murder can Poirot discover who has framed his client and bring them to justice?

A clever but quite unlikely solution is revealed in time – Poirot is able to take time out to work on something else – involving a piece of evidence that has to be considered three times before its full significance is understood and a motive that should have been much more evident to Poirot.

Recurring character development

Hercule Poirot

Until Hastings’ account was published he had not been connected publicly connected with this case, which he considers to have been a failure.

When viewing a body he makes a vow and the sign of the Cross as he does so.

Both he and Hastings play bridge, but he is happier to play for higher stakes and has a good with Sir Montagu Corner.

During an exceptional case (a feather in his cap) he had to guess each suspect in turn like someone reading a detective story.

Captain Hastings

Has always been an admirer of Jane Wilkinson.

Still has his toothbrush moustache.

Signs of the Times

Japp is reminded of the Elizabeth Canning Case where two sets of witnesses swore that Mary Squires, an accused party, was in two different places at the same time. Canning (1734-1773) claimed to have been kidnapped and held prisoner for a month in 1753 and accused Squires and Susannah Wells of having been her captors. The latter were initially found guilty but on further investigation they were release and the former found guilty of perjury. This story was the inspiration for the highly recommended “The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey.

Hastings compares himself to the Light Brigade with the quote “mine not to reason why, mine but to do or die”. This is a paraphrase of a line in Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854) which detailed the disastrous outcome of a miscommunication at the Battle of Balaclava which caused the British Light Brigade cavalry to make a frontal assault at the Russian guns.

References to previous works

Poirot recalls a case that Hastings was part of which involved a clue that was not believed as it was four feet long and not four centimetres. This may be a case that features in “Poirot’s Early Cases”. In “The Murder on the Links” Poirot remarks that a clue of two feet long is every bit as valuable as one measuring two millimetres.

Lady Yardly from “The Adventure of the Western Star – Poirot Investigates” recommended that the Dowager Duchess of Merton should consult Poirot.

Poirot takes some time out of the case to investigate the disappearance of an ambassador’s boots, a very similar case to that detailed in “Partners in Crime”.

Vintage Reading Challenge

Lord Edgware is stabbed to death so fulfils “How – death by knife/dagger”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#17 – Lord Edgware Dies – WITH SPOILERS

Although he does not normally touch domestic cases, Poirot is persuaded by the actress Jane Wilkinson to discuss a possible divorce with her husband which he has previously refused to grant.

Poirot is therefore surprised when she is arrested for  Lord Edgware’s murder as he had now agreed to divorce her – although no one else was yet aware of this fact – and she was out to dinner at the time of the crime – although this was due to a late change of plan.

With witnesses prepared to swear that Jane did visit her husband on the night of the murder can Poirot discover who has framed his client and bring them to justice?

A clever but quite unlikely solution is revealed in time – Poirot is able to take time out to work on something else – involving a piece of evidence that has to be considered three times before its full significance is understood and a motive that should have been much more evident to Poirot.

Recurring character development

Hercule Poirot

Until Hastings’ account was published he had not been connected publicly connected with this case, which he considers to have been a failure.

When viewing a body he makes a vow and the sign of the Cross as he does so.

Both he and Hastings play bridge, but he is happier to play for higher stakes and has a good with Sir Montagu Corner.

During an exceptional case (a feather in his cap) he had to guess each suspect in turn like someone reading a detective story.

Captain Hastings

Has always been an admirer of Jane Wilkinson.

Still has his toothbrush moustache.

Signs of the Times

Japp is reminded of the Elizabeth Canning Case where two sets of witnesses swore that Mary Squires, an accused party, was in two different places at the same time. Canning (1734-1773) claimed to have been kidnapped and held prisoner for a month in 1753 and accused Squires and Susannah Wells of having been her captors. The latter were initially found guilty but on further investigation they were release and the former found guilty of perjury. This story was the inspiration for the highly recommended “The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey.

Hastings compares himself to the Light Brigade with the quote “mine not to reason why, mine but to do or die”. This is a paraphrase of a line in Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854) which detailed the disastrous outcome of a miscommunication at the Battle of Balaclava which caused the British Light Brigade cavalry to make a frontal assault at the Russian guns.

References to previous works

Poirot recalls a case that Hastings was part of which involved a clue that was not believed as it was four feet long and not four centimetres. This may be a case that features in “Poirot’s Early Cases”. In “The Murder on the Links” Poirot remarks that a clue of two feet long is every bit as valuable as one measuring two millimetres.

Lady Yardly from “The Adventure of the Western Star – Poirot Investigates” recommended that the Dowager Duchess of Merton should consult Poirot.

Poirot takes some time out of the case to investigate the disappearance of an ambassador’s boots, a very similar case to that detailed in “Partners in Crime”.

Vintage Reading Challenge

Lord Edgware is stabbed to death so fulfils “How – death by knife/dagger”.

SPOILERS

The next one in our series of the killer was never even included in the list of suspects because it’s “The One Where the Only Person Seen at the Crime Scene Actually Did It”.

The whole business of Carlotta Adams being able to successfully impersonate Jane Wilkinson up close for an evening is quite unlikely (so much so that in the David Suchet TV version they just cheat and the actress seen at the dinner is the one playing Jane, not Carlotta) but if it has succeeded in the short term, it is then likely, as happens, that the illusion cannot be sustained long term. It is poetic justice that it is Carlotta’s intelligence and knowledge of classical civilisation that helps bring her killer to justice.  I think this is the first time that we see in a Christie novel the classic trope where someone realises something of importance (in this case that the Jane Wilkinson from the first dinner party would have recognised that the Judgement of Paris referred not to the French capital but to the Trojan prince being asked to decide which goddess should be given an apple of the Hesperides), manages to accidentally communicate that to the murderer, then dithers around so that they get bumped off before they can discuss it with the detective.

The use of Carlotta’s letter to her sister (the murderer overreaches themselves here and should just have destroyed it) is handled well. First we read the transcript where you can only see the join if you are looking for it, then we see the torn page, where the explanation is that the missing page has been torn off, then finally the significance of the missing corner which turns “he” into “she”.

And then there is the question of the motive which might be less obvious for the modern reader, but which to the Catholic Poirot should have been apparent much earlier: whilst a divorce would have been of benefit to Jane a year ago when she planned to marry someone else, now that she has her sights set on the Duke of Merton, it is of no use whatsoever, and yet Poirot completely ignores this point – if he had he might have seen through her alibi earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Reading Challenge – September 2018

Cinderella Goes to the Morgue by Nancy Spain

I knew nothing about this before I bought it in a charity shop so fulfils “Why – out of your comfort zone”

Natasha DuVivien, the Russian ballerina, and her actress friend Miriam Birdseye are Christmas shopping in Newchester-on-the-Tame when they spot the music-hall artist Hampton Court who is putting on that year’s pantomime, Cinderella. They visit the theatre just as Milady’s Powder-Puff is fired and Natasha reluctantly agrees to step into the breach.

During rehearsals Prince Charming falls through a trapdoor and breaks her neck…accident or murder? If the latter then there are plenty of suspects, including the Ugly Sisters – her husband and her lover – and her son, the stage manager.

There is little real detection – information is revealed bit by bit but without the police having to work for it – and in the end any of the almost entirely unsympathetic could have done it. Not a good mystery but it may be of some interest to those with an interest in the theatre as you would learn how to put on a traditional pantomime in the post-war period.

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers

Fulfils “When – during a trip/vacation”

The newlywed Lord and Lady Peter Wimsey arrive late at night at their new home to find it locked up and the previous owner vanished. With the help of a local woman they manage to make do and order seems to have been restored.

Next morning, when the house is full of visitors, a body is found in the coal cellar – the owner had not absconded after all – but any evidence from the crime scene has already been tidied away, much to Bunter’s chagrin.

Harriet agrees that Peter should assist the official investigation, although this does put strain on their relationship when he insists on passing on some personal information concerning one of their new acquaintances to the police, and brings forth this exchange:

“The dead – are dead. We’ve got to be decent to the living.”

“I’m thinking of the living. Till we get at the truth, every soul in this village is suspect. Do you want X broken and hanged, because we wouldn’t speak? Must Y be left under suspicion because the crime was never brought home to anybody else? Are they all to go about in fear, knowing there’s an undiscovered murderer among them?”

“But there’s no proof – no proof!”

“It’s evidence. We can’t pick and choose. Whoever suffers, we must have truth. Nothing else matters a damn.”

“But must it be your hands-?”

The first part links back to Christie’s idea expressed through Mr Quin and Miss Marple that it is more important to identify the perpetrator, not to punish them, but to give freedom to the living. The second part plays into ideas of public duty versus private relationships – would you rather betray your country or your friend? When I was younger it would have been my friend; now I’m not so sure.

Overall this is a fitting end to the series of Wimsey novels (although some short stories were still to come) as we have the comedic (such as the quotations duel between Wimsey and the surprisingly literate Superintendent Kirk or Bunter’s second eruption of temper) interspersed with the reality of death culminating in the moving finale when Peter’s last façade is broken down and he and Harriet are completely one.

One final thing that struck me was when Peter and Harriet turn up at Denver very early in the morning, which rouses not only the Dowager Duchess, but consequently her servants as well. A life lived in such service, always being at someone else’s beck and call, must in the main, have been terrible.

#16 – The Thirteen Problems

This collection contains two sets of six tales where a circle of friends each recounts a mysterious happening  which the others then have to solve, plus a final stand-alone story.

At Miss Marple’s home (published December 1927 – May 1928)

1.The Tuesday Night Club – Sir Henry Clithering’s tale of a domestic poisoning.

2. The Idol House of Astarte – Dr Pender’s tale of a supernatural grove.

3. Ingots of Gold – Raymond West’s tale of treasure hunting in Cornwall.

4. The Bloodstained Pavement – Joyce Lemprière’s tale of a Cornish legend come to life.

5. Motive v Opportunity – Mr Petherick’s tale of a vanishing will.

6. The Thumb Mark of St Peter – Miss Marple’s tale of a death in the family.

At the Bantrys’ home (published December 1929 – May 1930)

7. The Blue Geranium – Colonel Bantry’s tale of the flowers of death.

8. The Companion – Dr Lloyd’s tale of drowning abroad.

9. The Four Suspects – Sir Henry Clithering’s tale of the revenge of the Black Hand.

10. A Christmas Tragedy – Miss Marple’s tale of three festive deaths.

11. The Herb of Death – Mrs Bantry’s tale of a poisoning at the manor house.

12. The Affair at the Bungalow – Jane Helier’s tale of a “friend” and a strange burglary.

Stand-alone  (published in November 1931)

13. Death by Drowning – Sir Henry Clithering investigates at Miss Marple’s behest.

I enjoy the format of these stories – where one person recounts something that has happened to them, questions are asked, theories are proposed and refuted, before a suitable solution is reached (an excellent example is Isaac Asimov’s “Tales of the Black Widowers” where the waiter Henry takes the role of Miss Marple). 1 and 2 have the neatest solutions to my mind, and two of the stories have elements that end up in a later novel.

“The Four Suspects” best demonstrates Miss Marple’s feeling for human nature when she differs from Sir Henry in her view of who is most damaged by being under unfair suspicion.

Nothing exceptional in this collection but given the relative lack of Miss Marple novels her short stories should be in more demand than Poirot’s.

Recurring character development

Miss Marple

Has a niece called Mabel.

Dislikes staying in other people’s houses.

Had a maid called Clara and later one called Ethel.

Has some plate and a King Charles tankard which are stored at the bank when she is away from home.

Has no truck with doctors and their medicines.

Had the text “Ask and you will receive” above her bed as a girl and always says a little prayer when she is in bad trouble.

Has her grandmother’s recipe for tansy tea.

Has done a little nursing.

Suffers from rheumatism.

Believes strongly in capital punishment.

Signs of the Times

Mrs Jones asks for a bowl of cornflour which ends up being drunk by Miss Clark (1). I can find no definitive answer as to what this is but when I googled ” a bowl of cornflour” the top results related to Agatha Christie readers asking the same question relating to the same story!

Miss Clark is “banting” (1). William Banting was a 19th century undertaker. He lost weight under the advice of William Harvey, who had learned from Frenchman Claude Bernard, by restricting the amount of carbohydrates in his diet, especially those of a starchy or sugary nature. He publicised his success in the 1863 pamphlet “Letter on Corpulence, Address to the Public”, hence banting became the term for following his method.

Diana Ashley was one of the beauties of the Season (2). The Season was the time of year when elite families lived in London, as opposed to on their country estates. This coincided with the sitting of Parliament and lasted from after Christmas until midsummer. It peaked during the 19th century and then declined after World War I.

Miss Marple refers to the marks of St Peter’s thumb on a haddock (6). A haddock has a dark oval mark below its dorsal fin. The legend is that this is where Peter held the fish when he took a coin from its mouth to pay the Temple tax (Matthew 17: 24-27).

The two English ladies would “see what they wished to see, assisted by Baedeker, and be blind to everything else” (8). Karl Baedeker (1801 – 1859) was a German publisher and pioneer in the field of travel guides. The brand is still in use today.

Miss Marple was staying at a Hydro (10). This is short for a Hydropathic Spa, where customers would be able to take the water-cure, a range of treatment using hot and cold water, thought to treat many ailments.

Miss Marple says that an Egyptologist can tell by feel whether a scarab is genuine or a Birmingham imitation (10).  The city of Birmingham has a long history of jewellery manufacturing, some of which was either shoddy or deliberately counterfeit, giving rise to the term “Brummagem ware” – Brummagem being a local dialect name for the city. The implication here is of a cheap copy.

Jane Helier is acting in “Smith” by Somerset Maugham (12). “Smith” is a 1909 comedy in four parts. W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965) was a British playwright, novelist, and short story writer.

The expression “trying it on the dog” is used (12). This refers to refining a dramatic work, probably in a provincial location, before bringing it to a major stage e.g. London or New York.

Use of the word “pother” which could have been a typo for “bother” (13). Here it means a fuss or commotion.

Colonel Melchett believes that Sandford’s architectural style shows that he is a Bolshie i.e. Bolshevik, Communist (13).

References to previous works

Dr Haydock (The Murder at the Vicarage) has replaced Dr Lloyd by the time of the final story.

Vintage Reading Challenge

Published in the USA as “The Tuesday Club Murders” so fulfils “What – book published under more than one title”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#15 – Peril at End House

Nick Buckley, owner of the titular End House, has been the subject of a number of near-fatal accidents and is then almost killed under the very eyes of the holidaying Hercule Poirot.

He is determined to protect her but then murder is done. Having failed once is he able to redeem himself by catching a clever and cold-blooded killer?

One of my earliest Poirot’s and probably my most often read, watched and listened to, and still one of my favourites.

I can’t say more as I haven’t yet figured out how to put more description in the top part of my posts because I feel anything I say (or don’t say) will reveal something. Next time I read a new book, I think I will try to write the first half of the review half-way through my reading as then I won’t know what may or may not be a spoiler!

Recurring character development

Hercule Poirot

Is still retired and declines the Home Secretary’s request for help.

Asks Nick Buckley if she has read his books. Whether these are his own writings or Hastings publications is unclear.

Can identify that a bullet has been fired from a Mauser pistol.

Clings to the Continental breakfast and is distressed to see Hastings eating bacon and eggs.

Has not seen Inspector Japp since before “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”.

Has never disguised himself in the course of his investigations.

Captain Hastings

Has grown a moustache but it is not up to Poirot’s standards.

Has had malaria in the past and consequently has occasional bouts of fever.

Signs of the Times

Michael Seton is attempting a solo round-the-world flight. An American team using multiple planes had flown around the world in 1924, but it was not until 1933 that a solo trip in a single plane was accomplished by the American Wiley Post.

Hastings says that Michael Seton’s endeavours make him feel it is worth being an Englishman to which Poirot responds that it consoles for the defeats at Wimbledon. In 1932 when this book was published there hadn’t been British winners of the Singles since Arthur Gore in 1909 and Kitty Godfree in 1926. In 1934 there was a British double for Fred Perry and Dorothy Round.

Jim Lazarus asks when Nick Buckley is going to get her Moth. The Moths were a series of aeroplanes made by de Havilland in the 1920s and 30s but Moth was used in the UK to refer to any type of light aircraft.

He then says that she will be off to Australia like that girl, but has forgotten her name. This must be Amy Johnson who became the first aviatrix to fly from Britain to Australia in 1930.

The phrase “being in the Mrs. Harris-like position of ‘there ain’t no such person'” is used. This is a reference to Charles Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit” where Mrs. Gamp tells stories of how she has helped Mrs. Harris over the years until her friend Betsey Prig realises that no such person exists.

References to previous works

Separately, Poirot and Mrs Croft mention “The Mystery of the Blue Train”, the previous book in the series.

Hastings tells Nick Buckley how Poirot solved “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”.

Poirot refers to his failure in the affair of the box of chocolates, which is recounted in “Poirot’s Early Cases”, a 1975 anthology.

Vintage Reading Challenge

A murder occurs during a firework display so fulfils “When – during a special event”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#15 – Peril at End House – WITH SPOILERS

Nick Buckley, owner of the titular End House, has been the subject of a number of near-fatal accidents and is then almost killed under the very eyes of the holidaying Hercule Poirot.

He is determined to protect her but then murder is done. Having failed once is he able to redeem himself by catching a clever and cold-blooded killer?

One of my earliest Poirot’s and probably my most often read, watched and listened to, and still one of my favourites.

I can’t say more as I haven’t yet figured out how to put more description in the top part of my posts because I feel anything I say (or don’t say) will reveal something. Next time I read a new book, I think I will try to write the first half of the review half-way through my reading as then I won’t know what may or may not be a spoiler!

Recurring character development

Hercule Poirot

Is still retired and declines the Home Secretary’s request for help.

Asks Nick Buckley if she has read his books. Whether these are his own writings or Hastings publications is unclear.

Can identify that a bullet has been fired from a Mauser pistol.

Clings to the Continental breakfast and is distressed to see Hastings eating bacon and eggs.

Has not seen Inspector Japp since before “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”.

Has never disguised himself in the course of his investigations.

Captain Hastings

Has grown a moustache but it is not up to Poirot’s standards.

Has had malaria in the past and consequently has occasional bouts of fever.

Signs of the Times

Michael Seton is attempting a solo round-the-world flight. An American team using multiple planes had flown around the world in 1924, but it was not until 1933 that a solo trip in a single plane was accomplished by the American Wiley Post.

Hastings says that Michael Seton’s endeavours make him feel it is worth being an Englishman to which Poirot responds that it consoles for the defeats at Wimbledon. In 1932 when this book was published there hadn’t been British winners of the Singles since Arthur Gore in 1909 and Kitty Godfree in 1926. In 1934 there was a British double for Fred Perry and Dorothy Round.

Jim Lazarus asks when Nick Buckley is going to get her Moth. The Moths were a series of aeroplanes made by de Havilland in the 1920s and 30s but Moth was used in the UK to refer to any type of light aircraft.

He then says that she will be off to Australia like that girl, but has forgotten her name. This must be Amy Johnson who became the first aviatrix to fly from Britain to Australia in 1930.

The phrase “being in the Mrs. Harris-like position of ‘there ain’t no such person'” is used. This is a reference to Charles Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit” where Mrs. Gamp tells stories of how she has helped Mrs. Harris over the years until her friend Betsey Prig realises that no such person exists.

References to previous works

Separately, Poirot and Mrs Croft mention “The Mystery of the Blue Train”, the previous book in the series.

Hastings tells Nick Buckley how Poirot solved “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”.

Poirot refers to his failure in the affair of the box of chocolates, which is recounted in “Poirot’s Early Cases”, a 1975 anthology.

Vintage Reading Challenge

A murder occurs during a firework display so fulfils “When – during a special event”.

SPOILERS

The next one in our series of the killer was never even included in the list of suspects because it’s “The One Where the Intended Victim Did It”.

As I’ve said, this was an early read, so I was completely taken in, but the set-up is beautiful.

Nick Buckley doesn’t come to Poirot for help – she doesn’t even know who is – rather he has to persuade her that the danger is real and that she is in need of protection.

There is no motive – until Nick reveals her relationship with Michael Seton – and here again it is Poirot who makes the running by finding the love letter confirming that he has made a will (and a wonderful fair-play clue that is entirely truthful but which is read as the author intends) remembering that her name was really Magdala.

We are told by a number of her friends that Nick is a liar, but we disbelieve them, or perhaps feel that she is the girl who cried wolf. Until Poirot realises that her friends are right – Nick Buckley is a cunning sociopath who has lead him up the garden path.

And so he stages his play. He always said there was a J, and J duly appears, but then he reveals there is also a K, but that they are not just another J.

I am amazed at the intricacies of the plotting such as Nick’s appendicitis which causes the Crofts’ to forge a will, making them credible suspects, but which is also used as evidence against Nick because it isn’t mentioned in Seton’s letters. Having a character called Frederica/Freddie so that it can be discussed compared to Margaret/Maggie/Margot/Madge/Peggy.

At the end we see Poirot’s mercy (mentioned in a previous post) as he allows Nick to take the wrist-watch full of cocaine. In the book he reveals this after the police have left but in the David Suchet adaptation Japp is still present but unrealistically is not perturbed by this information.