Poirots early cases 18 h.., p.1
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       Poirot's Early Cases: 18 Hercule Poirot Mysteries, p.1

         Part #41 of Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie
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Poirot's Early Cases: 18 Hercule Poirot Mysteries


  Poirot’s Early

  Cases

  Contents

  About Agatha Christie

  The Agatha Christie Collection

  E-book Extra

  The Affair at the Victory Ball

  The Adventure of the Clapham Cook

  The Cornish Mystery

  The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly

  The Double Clue

  The King of Clubs

  The Lemesurier Inheritance

  The Lost Mine

  The Plymouth Express

  The Chocolate Box

  The Submarine Plans

  The Third-Floor Flat

  Double Sin

  The Market Basing Mystery

  Wasps’ Nest

  The Veiled Lady

  Problem at Sea

  How Does Your Garden Grow?

  Copyright

  www.agathachristie.com

  About the Publisher

  About Agatha Christie

  Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in 100 foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time and in any language, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Mrs Christie is the author of eighty crime novels and short story collections, nineteen plays, and six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott.

  Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written towards the end of World War I (during which she served in the Voluntary Aid Detachments). In it she created Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian investigator who was destined to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. After having been rejected by a number of houses, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was eventually published by The Bodley Head in 1920.

  In 1926, now averaging a book a year, Agatha Christie wrote her masterpiece. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first of her books to be published by William Collins and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship that lasted for fifty years and produced over seventy books. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie’s works to be dramatised—as Alibi—and to have a successful run in London’s West End. The Mousetrap, her most famous play, opened in 1952 and runs to this day at St Martin’s Theatre in the West End; it is the longest-running play in history.

  Agatha Christie was made a Dame in 1971. She died in 1976, since when a number of her books have been published: the bestselling novel Sleeping Murder appeared in 1976, followed by An Autobiography and the short story collections Miss Marple’s Final Cases; Problem at Pollensa Bay; and While the Light Lasts. In 1998, Black Coffee was the first of her plays to be novelised by Charles Osborne, Mrs Christie’s biographer.

  The Agatha Christie Collection

  Christie Crime Classics

  The Man in the Brown Suit

  The Secret of Chimneys

  The Seven Dials Mystery

  The Mysterious Mr Quin

  The Sittaford Mystery

  The Hound of Death

  The Listerdale Mystery

  Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

  Parker Pyne Investigates

  Murder Is Easy

  And Then There Were None

  Towards Zero

  Death Comes as the End

  Sparkling Cyanide

  Crooked House

  They Came to Baghdad

  Destination Unknown

  Spider’s Web *

  The Unexpected Guest *

  Ordeal by Innocence

  The Pale Horse

  Endless Night

  Passenger To Frankfurt

  Problem at Pollensa Bay

  While the Light Lasts

  Hercule Poirot Investigates

  The Mysterious Affair at Styles

  The Murder on the Links

  Poirot Investigates

  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

  The Big Four

  The Mystery of the Blue Train

  Black Coffee *

  Peril at End House

  Lord Edgware Dies

  Murder on the Orient Express

  Three-Act Tragedy

  Death in the Clouds

  The ABC Murders

  Murder in Mesopotamia

  Cards on the Table

  Murder in the Mews

  Dumb Witness

  Death on the Nile

  Appointment with Death

  Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

  Sad Cypress

  One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

  Evil Under the Sun

  Five Little Pigs

  The Hollow

  The Labours of Hercules

  Taken at the Flood

  Mrs McGinty’s Dead

  After the Funeral

  Hickory Dickory Dock

  Dead Man’s Folly

  Cat Among the Pigeons

  The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

  The Clocks

  Third Girl

  Hallowe’en Party

  Elephants Can Remember

  Poirot’s Early Cases

  Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

  Miss Marple Mysteries

  The Murder at the Vicarage

  The Thirteen Problems

  The Body in the Library

  The Moving Finger

  A Murder Is Announced

  They Do It with Mirrors

  A Pocket Full of Rye

  4.50 from Paddington

  The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side

  A Caribbean Mystery

  At Bertram’s Hotel

  Nemesis

  Sleeping Murder

  Miss Marple’s Final Cases

  Tommy & Tuppence

  The Secret Adversary

  Partners in Crime

  N or M?

  By the Pricking of My Thumbs

  Postern of Fate

  Published as Mary Westmacott

  Giant’s Bread

  Unfinished Portrait

  Absent in the Spring

  The Rose and the Yew Tree

  A Daughter’s a Daughter

  The Burden

  Memoirs

  An Autobiography

  Come, Tell Me How You Live

  Play Collections

  The Mousetrap and Selected Plays

  Witness for the Prosecution and Selected Plays

  * novelised by Charles Osborne

  E-Book Extra

  The Poirots

  The Poirots

  The Mysterious Affair at Styles; The Murder on the Links; Poirot Investigates; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; The Big Four; The Mystery of the Blue Train; Black Coffee; Peril at End House; Lord Edgware Dies; Murder on the Orient Express; Three-Act Tragedy; Death in the Clouds; The ABC Murders; Murder in Mesopotamia; Cards on the Table; Murder in the Mews; Dumb Witness; Death on the Nile; Appointment with Death; Hercule Poirot’s Christmas; Sad Cypress; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; Evil Under the Sun; Five Little Pigs; The Hollow; The Labours of Hercules; Taken at the Flood; Mrs McGinty’s Dead; After the Funeral; Hickory Dickory Dock; Dead Man’s Folly; Cat Among the Pigeons; The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding; The Clocks; Third Girl; Hallowe’en Party; Elephants Can Remember; Poirot’s Early Cases; Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

  Captain Arthur Hastings, invalided in the Great War, is recuperating as a guest of John Cavendish at Styles Court, the ‘country-place’ of John’s autocratic old aunt, Emily Inglethorpe—she of a sizeable fortune, and so recently remarried to a man twenty years her junior. When Emily’s sudden heart attack is found to be attributable to strychn
ine, Hastings recruits an old friend, now retired, to aid in the local investigation. With impeccable timing, Hercule Poirot, the renowned Belgian detective, makes his dramatic entrance into the pages of crime literature.

  Of note: Written in 1916, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Agatha Christie’s first published work. Six houses rejected the novel before it was finally published—after puzzling over it for eighteen months before deciding to go ahead—by The Bodley Head.

  Times Literary Supplement: ‘Almost too ingenious…very clearly and brightly told.’

  2. The Murder on the Links (1923)

  “For God’s sake, come!” But by the time Hercule Poirot can respond to Monsieur Renauld’s plea, the millionaire is already dead—stabbed in the back, and lying in a freshly dug grave on the golf course adjoining his estate. There is no lack of suspects: his wife, whose dagger did the deed; his embittered son; Renauld’s mistress—and each feels deserving of the dead man’s fortune. The police think they’ve found the culprit. Poirot has his doubts. And the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse complicates matters considerably. (However, on a bright note, Captain Arthur Hastings does meet his future wife.)

  The New York Times: ‘A remarkably good detective story…warmly recommended.’

  Literary Review: ‘Really clever.’

  Sketch: ‘Agatha Christie never lets you down.’

  3. Poirot Investigates (1924)

  A movie star, a diamond; a murderous ‘suicide’; a pharaoh’s curse upon his tomb; a prime minister abducted…What links these fascinating cases? The brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot in…‘The Adventure of the Western Star’; ‘The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor’; ‘The Adventure of the Cheap Flat’; ‘The Mystery of the Hunter’s Lodge’; ‘The Million Dollar Bond Robbery’; ‘The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb’; ‘The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan’; ‘The Kidnapped Prime Minister’; ‘The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim’; ‘The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman’; ‘The Case of the Missing Will.’

  Of note: The stories collected here were first published in Sketch, beginning on March 7, 1923. Sketch also featured the first illustration of the foppish, egg-headed, elaborately moustachioed Belgian detective.

  Literary Review: ‘A capital collection…ingeniously constructed and told with an engaging lightness of style.’

  Irish Times: ‘In straight detective fiction there is still no one to touch [Christie].’

  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

  In the quiet village of King’s Abbot a widow’s suicide has stirred suspicion—and dreadful gossip. There are rumours that she murdered her first husband, that she was being blackmailed, and that her secret lover was Roger Ackroyd. Then, on the verge of discovering the blackmailer’s identity, Ackroyd himself is murdered. Hercule Poirot, who has settled in King’s Abbot for some peace and quiet and a little gardening, finds himself at the centre of the case—and up against a diabolically clever and devious killer.

  Of note: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd broke all the rules of detective fiction and made Agatha Christie a household name. Widely regarded as her masterpiece (though perhaps it may be called her ‘Poirot masterpiece’ since other titles in her canon—notably And Then There Were None—are similarly acclaimed), The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the source of some controversy when it was published. The Times Literary Supplement’s praise of the first Poirot, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, ‘almost too ingenious,’ was applied by scores of readers to Ackroyd, who were nonetheless enraptured by the novel, and have remained so over the decades.

  Fair warning: There are two things you must do if you know nothing of the book: discuss it with no one, and read it with all speed.

  H.R.F. Keating: ‘One of the landmarks of detective literature’ (in his Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books).

  Julian Symons: ‘The most brilliant of deceptions’ (in his Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel).

  Irish Independent: ‘A classic—the book has worthily earned its fame.’

  5. The Big Four (1927)

  Hercule Poirot is preparing for a voyage to South America. Looming in the doorway of his bedroom is an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust and mud. The man’s gaunt face registers Poirot for a moment, and then he collapses. The stranger recovers long enough to identify Poirot by name and madly and repeatedly scribble the figure ‘4’ on a piece of paper. Poirot cancels his trip. An investigation is in order. Fortunately, Poirot has the faithful Captain Hastings at his side as he plunges into a conspiracy of international scope—one that would consolidate power in the deadly cabal known as ‘The Big Four.’

  6. The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)

  Le Train Bleu is an elegant, leisurely means of travel, and one certainly free of intrigue. Hercule Poirot is aboard, bound for the Riviera. And so is Ruth Kettering, the American heiress. Bailing out of a doomed marriage, she is en route to reconcile with her former lover. But her private affairs are made quite public when she is found murdered in her luxury compartment—bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Fans of the later novel Murder on the Orient Express will not want to miss this journey by rail—and Poirot’s eerie reenactment of the crime…

  7. Black Coffee (1930; 1998)

  Sir Claud Amory’s formula for a powerful new explosive has been stolen, presumably by a member of his large household. Sir Claud assembles his suspects in the library and locks the door, instructing them that the when the lights go out, the formula must be replaced on the table—and no questions will be asked. But when the lights come on, Sir Claud is dead. Now Hercule Poirot, assisted by Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp, must unravel a tangle of family feuds, old flames, and suspicious foreigners to find the killer and prevent a global catastrophe.

  Of note: Black Coffee was Agatha Christie’s first playscript, written in 1929. It premiered in 1930 at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage, London, before transferring the following year to St Martin’s in the West End—a theatre made famous by virtue of its becoming the permanent home of the longest-running play in history, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Agatha Christie’s biographer, Charles Osborne, who, as a young actor in 1956 had played Dr Carelli in a Tunbridge Wells production of Black Coffee, adapted the play as this novel in 1998.

  Antonia Fraser, Sunday Telegraph: ‘A lively and light-hearted read which will give pleasure to all those who have long wished that there was just one more Christie to devour.’

  Mathew Prichard, from his Foreword to Black Coffee: ‘This Hercule Poirot murder mystery…reads like authentic, vintage Christie. I feel sure Agatha would be proud to have written it.’

  8. Peril at End House (1932)

  Nick is an unusual name for a pretty young woman. And Nick Buckley has been leading an unusual life of late. First, on a treacherous Cornish hillside, the brakes on her car fail. Then, on a coastal path, a falling boulder misses her by inches. Safe in bed, she is almost crushed by a painting. Upon discovering a bullet hole in Nick’s sun hat, Hercule Poirot (who had come to Cornwall for a simple holiday with his friend Captain Hastings) decides that the girl needs his protection. At the same time, he begins to unravel the mystery of a murder that hasn’t been committed. Yet.

  Times Literary Supplement: ‘Ingenious.’

  9. Lord Edgware Dies (1933)

  Poirot was present when the beautiful actress Jane Wilkinson bragged of her plan to ‘get rid of’ her estranged husband. Now the monstrous man is dead. But how could Jane have stabbed Lord Edgware in his library at exactly the time she was dining with friends? And what could have been her motive, since Edgware had finally granted her a divorce? The great Belgian detective, aided by Captain Hastings, can’t help feeling that some kind of heinous stagecraft is in play. And does more murder wait in the wings?

  The New York Times: ‘A most ingenious crime puzzle.’

  Times Literary Supplement: ‘The whole case is a triumph of Poirot’s special qualities.’

  Noted cri
me fiction critic Julian Symons selected Lord Edgware Dies as one of Agatha Christie’s best.

  10. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)

  Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks in the middle of Yugoslavia. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for this time of year. But by morning there is one passenger less. A ‘respectable American gentleman’ lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside…Hercule Poirot is also aboard, having arrived in the nick of time to claim a second-class compartment—and the most astounding case of his illustrious career.

  Regarding chronology: Agatha Christie seems not much concerned in the course of her books with their relationship to each other. It is why the Marples and the Poirots may be ready in any order, really, with pleasure. However, the dedicated Poirotist may wish to note that the great detective is returning from ‘A little affair in Syria’ at the start of Murder on the Orient Express. It is a piece of business after this ‘little affair’—the investigation into the death of an archaeologist’s wife—that is the subject of Murder in Mesopotamia (1936). If one wishes to delay a tad longer the pleasures of Orient Express, Murder in Mesopotamia offers no better opportunity.

  Fair warning: Along these lines, it is advisable that one not read Cards on the Table (1936) prior to Orient Express, since Poirot himself casually gives away the ending to the latter novel.

  Of note: Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels, owing no doubt to a combination of its romantic setting and the ingeniousness of its plot; its non-exploitative reference to the sensational kidnapping and murder of the infant son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh only two years prior; and a popular 1974 film adaptation, starring Albert Finney as Poirot—one of the few cinematic versions of a Christie work that met with the approval, however mild, of the author herself.

 
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