23 February 2014
Review: A Selection of Short Stories by Agatha Christie
I read this collection of eight short stories on my Kindle.
What follows are not so much reviews as records for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
1. The Case of the Missing Lady
A Tommy and Tuppence story originally published in 1924. A tribute to Sherlock Holmes.
The Beresfords are working together as a private detective agency, in which Tommy is the detective and Tuppence is his secretary.
An Arctic explorer returns from an expedition to find that the lady he became engaged to prior to his departure two years before has disappeared.
Tommy and Tuppence eventually track her down but neither of them foresaw the reason for her disappearance.
I thought Christie was struggling to make this interesting and the ending was a bit trite.
2. The Dead Harlequin
First published in 1929. A Mr Satterthwaite story.
A slightly longer story that's begins when Mr Satterthwaite comes across a painting of a dead harlequin. He recognizes the location and is reminded of his friend Mr Harley Quin.
He invites the artist and a friend to dinner and the conversation gravitates to the setting of the painting, and to the story of the suicide of Lord Charnley at the house just as his guests arrived. There are a number of legends associated with Charnley House.
At some some stage they are joined by Mr Quin who assists in solving the mystery of the suicide and then disappears again.
There were elements of this story that were similar to The Second Gong.
3. The Dream
First published in 1938.
A wealthy eccentric Benedict Farley requests Hercule Poirot to call on him. He recounts the tale of a recurrent dream in which he eventually shoots himself. After he wakes up, he feels sure that one dayhe will actually do it.
Poirot comes away from the meeting feeling vaguely dissatisfied, feeling he has been talking to a mountebank. A week later he learns that Farley has actually killed himself and is invited to see the scene for himself.
4. The House of Lurking Death.
Another Tommy and Tuppence story, published in 1924.
Lois Hargreaves comes to consult Mr Blunt (Tommy's agency name) as she believes someone is trying to kill her.
She recently turned 21 and inherited a fortune.
Tommy and Tuppence decide to investigate but are too slow off the. Mark to prevent Lois' death by poisoning. This time it is Tuppence who solves the mystery.
In this story you can see Agatha Christie making use if her knowledge of chemicals and poisons.
5. The Man in the Mist
Another Tommy and Tuppence story, also published in 1924. A tribute to G. K. Chesterton.
The Beresfords investigate the murder of a young actress whom they had seen alive not five minutes before.
The murderer is the very last person we would suspect.
6. The Second Gong
This was originally published in 1932 and then expanded into Dead Man's Mirror in 1937 for inclusion in Murder in the Mews. Basically the story is the same, although the characters have different names, and the murderer is a different character.
I think Dead Man's Mirror was a lot more polished.
7. Triangle at Rhodes
This was originally published in 1936, and then republished as a novella in 1937 for inclusion in Murder in the Mews. It is a Hercule Poirot story, and there are no discernible differences between the two.
8. Witness for the Prosecution.
First published in 1925 as Traitor Hands.
I think this is the pick of the bunch, and you've probably seen the film which starred Marlene Deitrich.
A young man, Leonard Vole is accused of having murdered a rich eccentric old woman who befriended him. You will undoubtedly remember how cleverly the story was plotted and the role that Vole's wife played in securing his acquittal.
The story does not feature any of Christie's sleuths.