- first published 1959
- This edition published in the Agatha Christie Collection
- 224 pages
In a palace in Ramat a prince entrusts a packet of jewels to his pilot, in the hope that he can smuggle them to England. But before the packet reaches its destination the prince and the pilot are both dead. Then a frightened girl brings Hercule Poirot one of the most challenging cases of his long and brilliant career. A killer is terrorizing a famous school for girls; an unsuspecting student has become a magnet for evil and death.
Somehow the two cases are linked and only Poirot can solve this double mystery.
In this book Christie introduced Mr Robinson. A member of a financial syndicate called The Arrangers, he also appears in Postern of Fate and Passenger to Frankfurt.
This was a plot that I was very familiar with, but a book that I had not read for a long time. I think my familiarity came from the television production which made minor changes to the main story.
This is listed as a Poirot novel but the book is almost 2/3 over when he appears, but of course he can take the credit for the final solution.
There are some very interestingly drawn characters. Honoria Bulstrode, the headmistress bore an uncanny likeness to a private school principal I worked with long ago, to the point that I remember being very surprised by the television depiction. The characters more than made up for some of the unlikely plotlines. Miss Bulstrode prides herself on her awareness and forward thinking but frustratingly misses listening to some of what a parent is telling her and this of course contains the key to the whole story, particularly to two of the murders.
Miss Bulstrode's decision to retire, and that fact that she doesn't really take into account the feelings of those she works with, is in part a trigger for one of the murders.
This is one of the plots though where the reader is pretty well informed and we play catch up with the characters until some of them work out what we already know.
My rating: 4.3
See Margot Kinberg's assessment
I've read this as part of my participation in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
I've now read 52 novels and 12 collections of short stories. I estimate I have 15 novels to go.