2 January 2011

Review: DUMB WITNESS, Agatha Christie

First published in Great Britain in 1937
This edition published by Harper Collins 1994
ISBN 0-00-616808-6
251 pages
Source: Local Library

Publisher's blurb:
Everyone blames Emily's accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thinks about her fall, the more convinced she becomes that one of her relatives is trying to kill her. On April 17th she conveys her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously, he doesn't receive it until June 28th... by which time Emily is already dead.
    Miss Arundell died on May 1st. Though her illness was short her death did not occasion much surprise... But though Miss Arundell's death surprised no one, something else did. The provisions of her will gave rise to varying emotions, astonishment, pleasurable excitement, deep condemnation, fury, despair, anger and general gossip.
My take:

Hercule Poirot is placed in a difficult position because by the time he takes up Emily Arundell's commission she is already dead. He really could have just walked away. In fact, that is what Hastings thinks he should have done. But Poirot can smell murder, even though Emily's doctor is convinced she died a perfectly natural death of liver failure. Emily had recently changed her will, cutting out her immediate family who were all desperate for her money, and who originally were to have received considerable inheritances. And was this just a temporary measure to scare someone off? Had she really intended to revert to her original will, but died before she could?

If only Bob the dog could talk.. would he have been able to come up with the same final plot resolution as Hercule Poirot? That is the implication of the title, but I somehow don't think he would have. In the last few pages of the novel Poirot takes us painstakingly through the facts he assembled and the boxes he ticked, and we realise just how complex the plot really is.

My rating: 4.5
Apparently the concept of  DUMB WITNESS was originally fleshed out in a short story The Mystery of the Dog’s Ball that remained unpublished until it was finally published in Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making,


Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review :-). I'm glad you liked this one. It was, as you say, a rather complex plot, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. And I have to admit; I'm a sucker for Bob the dog ;-).

Lynossa (Deranged Book Lovers) said...

I really like this book, one of my favorite Christie's that I constantly read over and over again when I'm tired with other kinds of books.
Once again Poirot proved that he was right and this time with the help of Bob the dog.

Bev Hankins said...

Kerrie: You are really off and running with the Challenge! You'll have your level met in no time. Thanks for posting your reviews!


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