Thursday, May 23, 2019

Poirot Investigates

Poirot Investigates (1924) by Agatha Christie is one of the few Christie books that I don't own and I don't believe I've ever read.* The original British edition contained eleven short stories while the American edition (which I have read) includes an additional three. These early stories by Christie show a heavy influence of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Poirot keeps his clues extraordinarily close to his chest and in some instances we don't even get a peek at them. Hastings is endlessly annoyed that Poirot will not share his findings with him and even quite upset when he tries to play sleuth himslef only to find that Poirot has "allowed" him to make a fool of himself. But they are fun entries into the Poirot canon--giving us a good look at his relationships with Hastings and Inspector Japp. ★★

Original stories:
"The Adventure of the Western Star": Poirot investigates the theft of two fabulous matching diamonds. A film star, British aristocrats, and a mysterious Chinaman are all involved as Poirot looks to solve the case.

"The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor": Poirot takes on an insurance investigation when a man dies of an internal hemorrhage shortly after taking out a policy. They don't see how he could have committed suicide, but want to make sure since it would invalidate the policy.

"The Adventure of the Cheap Flat": Mrs. Robinson lands an incredible deal on a new flat in a fairly prestigious building. So incredible that Poirot decides he must investigate.

"The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge": Poirot is sick and Hastings goes to Hunter's Lodge to be his eyes and ears when Harrington Pace is murdered by a mysterious man in a black beard. The beard is probably a disguise--but is it the only one?

"The Million Dollar Bond Robbery": Phillip Ridgeway's fiancee calls upon Poirot to prove his innocence when the million dollars in Liberty Bond's that he transporting aboard the Olympia disappear before they reach the United States. Poirot again solves the mystery without ever visiting the scene of the crime.

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb": Members of an Egyptian archaeological dig begin dying of apparent natural causes and Lady Willard, whose husband was the first to die, fears that her son Guy might be next. She asks Poirot to determine if there is anything behind this supposed curse on Egyptian tombs.

"The Jewel Robbery at the Hotel Metropolitan": Hastings treats his friend to a holiday at the Hotel Metropolitan. While there, Poirot is called upon to discover the person behind the theft of a valuable pearl necklace.

"The Kidnapped Prime Minister": Following an attempted assignation, the British Prime Minister disappears. It's up to Poirot to release him from his captors in time for the Versailles Conference at the end of World War I.

"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim": Mr. Davenheim has vanished from his country house, The Cedars. Poirot bets Japp five pounds that he can solve the mystery of the disappearance without moving from his chair. Japp takes him up on it and agrees to share all the information he gathers--well, of course you know who wins the bet.

"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman": Dr. Hawker is visiting with Poirot and Hastings when his landlady brings a message that Count Foscatini has phoned for the doctor, crying out for help before the call is cut off. The three men race to the Count's apartments where they find him dead from a blow to the head. Remains of a meal for three are found on the table and it looks like two visitors were responsible...but Poirot knows the truth.

"The Case of the Missing Will": Miss Violet Marsh asks Poirot to help her find her inheritance. Her Uncle Andrew didn't have much use for book learning and was sure that his country common sense and natural wit was more than a match. So, after she went off to college, he made a will that would allow her to live in his house for one month. If she could use her wits and discover where he had hidden her true inheritance, then good for her. If she hadn't found it by the end of the month, then his property would pass to various charities. When Poirot succeeds, Hastings wonders if she hasn't cheated (since she didn't find it herself), but Poirot insists that she proved her wits--by knowing she needed to call in an expert.

Stories added to the American Edition
"The Chocolate Box": Poirot shares one of his failures (from early in his career) with Hastings. When Paul Déroulard, a French Deputy, dies suddenly of heart failure, his late wife's cousin Virginie Mesnard, asks Poirot to investigate--for she feels sure that it was not heart failure at all. Poirot misses a few clues and misreads the psychology of the crime--he only learns the truth when the actual murderer confesses (to prevent him charging the wrong person).

"The Veiled Lady": A heavily veiled lady comes to Poirot and begs him to help her retrieve an indiscreet letter which a blackmailer has stashed in a Chinese puzzle box hidden in a place her tormentor says she could never find. Poirot finds the box...and even more than what the lady asked him to find.

"The Lost Mine": Mr. Pearson needs Poirot's help to find out what really happened to Mr. Wu Ling and the important papers he was carrying to England. The papers concern an old lead-silver mine which had been worked for the silver, but now lead is at a premium and the mine would be worth a great deal. A man has been arrested for the death of Wu Ling--but the papers haven't been found. Poirot finds out exactly why.

Finished on 5/12/19
Deaths = 10 (3 shot; 1 stabbed; 3 poisoned; one hit on head; one drowned; one fell/pushed)

*If I did read it when I binged on Christie novels from the Wabash Public Library, I didn't manage to log it. But honestly, the only way I remember encountering these stories is through the filmed versions with David Suchet.
March = original pub date
Deaths = 11 (3 shot; 1 stabbed; 4 poisoned; 1 hit on head; 1 drowned; 1 fell/pushed)

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