12 February 2010

Review: THE HOUND OF DEATH, Agatha Christie

The Hound of Death and Other Stories is a collection of twelve short stories by Agatha Christie first published in the United Kingdom in October 1933.
I read them in a Paul Hamlyn Agatha Christie Crime Collection published in 1972, pages 345-510 (165 pages)

Twelve unexplained phenomena with no apparent earthly explanation…

A dog-shaped gunpowder mark; an omen from ‘the other side’; a haunted house; a chilling séance; a case of split personalities; a recurring nightmare; an eerie wireless message; an elderly lady’s hold over a young man; a disembodied cry of ‘murder’; a young man’s sudden amnesia; a levitation experience; a mysterious SOS.

Some of the stories had been published in various magazines prior to 1933.
  • The Hound of Death
  • The Red Signal, published June 1924
  • The Fourth Man, published December 1925
  • The Gypsy
  • The Lamp
  • Wireless, published December 1926
  • The Witness for the Prosecution, published January 1925
  • The Mystery of the Blue Jar, published July 1924
  • The Strange Case of Sir Arthur Carmichael
  • The Call of Wings
  • The Last Seance, published March 1927
  • SOS, published February 1926
While what we see in most of these stories is Christie exploring the paranormal, through seances, possession by spirits, the conjuring up of dark forces, and even madness, the one that didn't seem to fit that for me was The Witness for the Prosecution. That is probably the best known of all the stories in this collection, particularly it was made into a memorable film (1957) starring Marlene Dietrich, and really is a tale of deception.

The blurb on the inside dustjacket of the original publication said: a collection of hair-raising tales of mystery and the supernatural. In my opinion, these stories have a lot of Poe-ishness about them, with almost Gothic overtones to some of them. They are quick and enjoyable reads, and a very good encouragement to read Agatha Christie's short stories.

My rating 4.4

Margaret at BooksPlease reviewed THE HOUND OF DEATH last year saying, "12 short stories of premonitions, intuition or a sixth sense, stories of seances, haunted houses, nightmares, and amnesia - mainly supernatural and unexplained phenomena. A very enjoyable and satisfying collection."

This set of short stories brings my count to 70. According to the Agatha Christie site there are 163 known short stories.  Check what I've already read. I'm impressed by the number fo short stories Agatha Christie honed her craft with in the 1920s.

1 comment:

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