19 August 2009

Review: LORD EDGWARE DIES, Agatha Christie

Published in the UK in 1933 as LORD EDGWARE DIES and in the US in the same year as THIRTEEN AT DINNER.

The edition I read was in a Hamlyn omnibus, published in 1969, pages 191-366, 175 pages.
The omnibus, Agatha Christie Crime Collection, also contained 4.50 FROM PADDINGTON, and MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA.

Lady Edgware, Jane Wilkinson, is an actress, who has been married to Lord Edgware for about 3 years. The marriage has been a failure and now Lady Edgware wants a divorce. She tells Hercule Poirot her husband has refused to agree to a divorce and she asks Hercule Poirot to try to negotiate one for her. When Poirot and Hastings visit Lord Edgware, he claims that to the contrary he has already sent his wife a letter agreeing the divorce. Poirot reports this back to Lady Edgware who is now over the moon because it means she will be able to marry again, and she already has someone in mind.

That night however Lord Edgware is killed and the housekeeper and butler both claim that the perpetrator was Lady Edgware. But was it her or Carlotta Adams, a successful impersonator who has been entertaining London clubs with her impersonations of Lady Edgware? On the same morning that Lord Edgware's body is discovered in his library, Carlotta is discovered dead in her flat from a drugs overdose.

The tale LORD EDGWARE DIES is told by Poirot's companion Hastings. He tells us that Hercule Poirot regards the solving of the case of Lord Edgware's death as one of his failures. We learn that Poirot made some serious misjudgements in the case with the result that the murderer of Lord Edgware, Carlotta Adams, and another, very nearly got away with it. And yet, Hastings says, it was Poirot's genius that discovered the truth. Hastings says that he is recounting the case to comply with the wishes of a fascinating lady.

LORD EDGWARE DIES is Christie's 13th novel, and marks the 7th appearance of Hercule Poirot in novels. It was published in the year following PERIL AT END HOUSE, a case in which Porot was tricked by a young woman to whom he felt great attraction. If Poirot comes over as capable of making critical mistakes, it is very obvious that Arthur Hastings is a person whose judgement simply cannot be trusted. He is, as Poirot points out, not only unobservant, but also easily misled. Sometimes, when we are seeing things through Hastings' eyes, we need to remember that he is often an unreliable witness.

I thought that technically LORD EDGWARE DIES was a shade better than PERIL AT END HOUSE. I had begun to suspect the truth within 50 or so pages of the end, but still really needed Hercule Poirot to explain it all to me. My rating 4.5

I've read this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
I've now read 13 novels, and 4 sets of short stories.
Poirot appeared in 33 novels and 51 short stories that were published between 1920 and 1975.

Here is a list of Hercule Poirot novels and short story (ss) collections from Wikipedia so you can see I have quite a long way to go, and lots of pleasure in store:

1 comment:

Belle said...

I recently listened to the BBC Audio dramatization of this one. Very enjoyable.


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