The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) while the 1925 US edition was $2.00.
Plot summaries Edit
The Adventure of "The Western Star" Edit
Poirot receives a visit from Miss Mary Marvell, the famous Belgian film star on her visit to London. She has received three letters, handed to her by a Chinese man, which warn her to return her fabulous diamond jewel, the "Western Star", to where it came from – the left eye of an idol – before the next full moon. Her husband, Gregory Rolf, who bought it from a Chinese man in San Francisco, gave Mary the jewel three years ago. The pair are going to stay at Yardly Chase, the home of Lord and Lady Yardly when the moon is next full to discuss the making of a film there and Mary is determined to go with her diamond. Both Poirot and Hastings remember society gossip from three years back that linked Rolf and Lady Yardly. The Yardlys also own an identical diamond that came from the right eye of the idol – the Star of the East. After Mary has gone Poirot goes out and Hastings receives a visit from Lady Yardly (she was advised to visit Poirot by her friend Mary Cavendish, who appears in The Mysterious Affair at Styles). Hastings "deduces" that she too has received warning letters. Her husband plans to sell their jewel as he is in debt. When Poirot finds this out he arranges to visit Yardly Chase and is there when the lights go out and Lady Yardly is attacked by a Chinese man and her jewel stolen. The next day, Mary’s jewel is stolen from her London hotel. Poirot makes his investigations and returns the Yardly’s jewel to them. He reveals to Hastings that there never were two jewels or any Chinese man – it was all an invention of Rolf’s. Three years before in the USA he had an affair with Lady Yardly and blackmailed her into giving him the diamond which he then gave to his wife as a wedding present. Lady Yardly’s was a paste copy that would have been discovered when her husband sold it. She was starting to fight back against her blackmailer and Rolf arranged the deception against his wife that Lady Yardly copied when Hastings told her of the threats. Poirot’s threats manage to persuade Rolf to give the real diamond back and leave the Yardlys in peace.
The Tragedy at Marsdon ManorEdit
Poirot has been asked by a friend, who is the director of the Northern Union Insurance Company, to investigate the case of a middle-aged man who died of an internal haemorrhage just a few weeks after insuring his life for fifty thousand pounds. There were rumours that the man – Mr Maltravers – was in a difficult financial position and the suggestion has been made that he paid the insurance premiums and then committed suicide for the benefit of his beautiful young wife. Poirot and Hastings travel to Marsdon Manor in Essex where the dead man was found in the grounds, with a small rook rifle by his side. They interview the widow and can find nothing wrong. They are leaving when a young man, Captain Black, arrives. A gardener tells Poirot that he visited the house the day before the death. Poirot interviews Black and by using word association finds out that he knew of someone who committed suicide with a rook rifle in East Africa when he was out there. Poirot realises that this story, told at the dinner table the day before the tragedy, gave Mrs Maltravers the idea as to how to kill her husband by making him demonstrate to her how the African farmer would have put the gun in his mouth. She then pulled the trigger and the unsuspicious local doctor certified a natural death. Mr Maltravers is then seen by a maid in the garden. She thinks that it was just a mistake, but then in the living room a strange thing happens. The lights suddenly go out and Mrs Maltravers clasps Poirot's hand. Mr Maltravers suddenly appears in the room, his index finger glowing and pointing at Mrs Maltravers' hand, which is covered in his blood. She is scared to death and confesses. Poirot explains that he hired a man to impersonate Mr Maltravers and turn off the lights. When Mrs Maltravers grabbed Poirot's hand, he put fake blood on hers. The man applied phosphorescent to his finger to make it glow and pointed to the woman's hand, which was covered in fake blood. She is terrified and confesses.
The Adventure of the Cheap FlatEdit
Hastings is at a friend's house with several other people when the talk turns to flats and houses. A young couple by the name of Robinson are there and she tells the party how they have managed to obtain a flat in Knightsbridge for a stunningly attractive price. The next day, when Poirot is told of this singularly strange event, the Belgian Detective is immediately interested and starts to investigate. When they go to the buildings where the flat is, the porter tells them that the Robinsons have been there for six months, despite the fact that Mrs Robinson told Hastings they had only just obtained the lease. Poirot rents another flat in the building and, by use of the coal lift, manages to gain entry to the Robinson's flat and fix the locks in order that he can enter at will. The next day, Poirot tells Hastings that Japp informed him that important American naval plans were stolen from that country by an Italian called by Luigi Valdarno who managed to pass them onto an international spy, Elsa Hardt, before being killed in New York. Hardt's description is a somewhat close match to that of Mrs Robinson. That night, when the Robinson's flat is empty, Poirot and Hastings lie in wait and apprehend another Italian who has come to kill Elsa Hardt and her accomplice in revenge for the death of Valdarno. They disarm the man and take him to another house in London where Poirot has tracked down the two spies as now living, having previously lived in Knightsbridge as a Mr and Mrs Robinson and, in fear of their lives, then renting the flat cheaply to a real couple of the same name hoping that they would be killed in their place. They trick Hardt into revealing the hiding place of the plans before the Italian escapes and Japp arrests the two spies.
The Mystery of Hunter's LodgeEdit
Poirot is ill in bed with influenza when he and Hastings receive a visit from a Mr Roger Havering, the second son of a Baronet who has been married to an actress for some years. Mr Havering stayed at his club in London the previous evening and the following morning receives a telegram from his wife telling him his Uncle, Harrington Pace, was murdered the previous evening and to come at once with a detective. As Poirot is indisposed, Hastings sets off with Havering for the scene of the crime – Derbyshire.
Mr Pace, an American by birth and the brother of Mr Havering's mother, owns an isolated hunting lodge on the Derbyshire moors. When Hastings and Havering arrive there they meet Inspector Japp as Scotland Yard has been called in on the case. As Havering goes off to answer questions, Hastings speaks with the housekeeper, Mrs Middleton, who tells him she showed a black-bearded man into the house the previous evening who wanted to see Mr Pace. She and Mrs Havering were outside the room that the two men were talking in when they heard a shot. The door to the room was locked but they found the window outside open and gaining entry found Mr Pace dead, shot by one of two pistols on display in the room and the used pistol now missing, together with the black-bearded man. Mrs Middleton sends Mrs Havering to see Hastings and she confirms the housekeeper's story. Japp also confirms Havering's alibi for his train times to London and his attendance at the club but soon the missing pistol is found dumped in Ealing. Hastings wires to Poirot with the facts but Poirot is only interested in the clothes worn by and descriptions of Mrs Middleton and Mrs Havering. Poirot wires back instructions to arrest Mrs Middleton at once but she disappears before this instruction can be carried out. Upon investigation, no trace can be made of her actual existence, either from the agency she was employed from or the methods by which she reached Derbyshire. Once Hastings is back in London, Poirot gives Hastings his theory – Mrs Middleton never existed. She was Mrs Zoe Havering in disguise. No one except the couple can ever have claimed to have seen the two women together at the same time. Havering did go to London with one of the pistols which he dumped and Mrs Havering shot her uncle with the other pistol. Japp is convinced of the theory but doesn't have enough evidence to make an arrest. The Haverings inherit their uncle's fortune but natural justice sets in and the two are soon killed in an aeroplane crash.
The Million Dollar Bond RobberyEdit
Poirot is asked by the fiancée of Philip Ridgeway to prove his innocence. Ridgeway is the nephew of Mr Vavasour, the joint general manager of the London and Scottish Bank and a million dollars of bonds have gone missing whilst in his care. Poirot meets Ridgeway at the Cheshire Cheese who gives him the facts of the case: He was entrusted by his uncle and the other general manager, Mr Shaw, of taking a million dollars of Liberty Bonds to New York to extend the bank’s credit line there. The bonds were counted in Ridgeway’s presence in London, sealed in a packet and then put in his portmanteau that had a special lock on it. The packet disappeared just a few hours before the liner on which Ridgeway was travelling, the Olympia, docked in New York. Attempts had obviously been made to break into the portmanteau but its lock must have then have been picked. Customs were alerted and they sealed the ship that they then searched but to no avail. The thief was selling the bonds in New York so quickly that one dealer even swears to buying some bonds before the ship docked. Poirot then questions the two general managers who confirm what Ridgeway has said. He then travels to Liverpool where the Olympia has just returned from another crossing and the stewards confirm the presence of an elderly man wearing glasses who occupied the cabin next to Ridgeway and virtually never left it. Poirot meets back with Ridgeway and his fiancé and explains the case to them. The real bonds were never in the portmanteau. Instead they were posted to New York on another faster liner, the Gigantic, which arrived before the Olympia. The confederate at the other end had instructions to begin selling the bonds only when the Olympia docked but he failed to carry out his orders properly, hence one sale, which took place half an hour before docking. In the portmanteau was a false packet that the real villain of the piece took out with a duplicate key and threw overboard – this was Mr Shaw who claims he was off work for two weeks due to bronchitis whilst these events transpired, however Poirot caught him by asking if he can smoke a cigar (a request which Mr. Shaw should have declined as he couldn't stand smoke with his bronchitis problem). Hence he is the person who masterminded the entire theft act.
The Adventure of the Egyptian TombEdit
Poirot is consulted by Lady Willard, the widow of the famous Egyptologist, Sir John Willard. He was the archaeologist on the excavation of the tomb of the Pharaoh Men-her-Ra together with the American financier Mr Bleibner. Both men died within a fortnight of each other, Sir John of heart failure and Mr Bleibner of blood poisoning. A few days later Mr Bleibner’s nephew, Rupert, shot himself and the press has been full of stories of an Egyptian curse. Lady Willard’s son, Guy, has now gone out to Egypt to continue his father’s work and she fears that he too will die next. To Hasting’s surprise, Poirot states that he believes in the forces of superstition and agrees to investigate.
As a first step, he cables New York for details concerning Rupert Bleibner. The young man was something of an itinerant in the south seas and had managed to borrow enough money to take him to Egypt as he told someone he had a "good friend" there who he could borrow from. His uncle however refused to advance him a penny and the nephew had gone back to New York where he sank lower and lower and then shot himself, leaving a suicide note saying that he was leper and an outcast. Poirot and Hastings then travel to Egypt and join the expedition – only to find that there has been another death in the party, that of an American by tetanus. Poirot investigates the dig and feels more and more the forces of evil at work. On one night, Hassan, one of the Arab servants delivers Poirot his cup of camomile tea. As Hastings watches the desert night he hears Poirot choking having drunk the tea. He runs and fetches the expedition surgeon – Dr Ames- but this is a trick to get the doctor into their tent where Poirot orders Hastings to secure him but the doctor kills himself with a cyanide capsule. Poirot explains that the Rupert was Bleibner’s heir and the doctor, secretly, must have been Rupert’s heir. Sir John died of natural causes but started speculation regarding superstition, the force of its suggestions on people being something that Poirot believes in – not any supernatural occurrences. Everyone assumed that Rupert’s "good friend" in the camp was his uncle but that couldn’t have been the case as they rowed so quickly. Despite having no money, Rupert was able to get back to New York which shows that he did have an ally in the expedition but this was a false ally – the doctor, who told Rupert he had contracted leprosy in the south seas and it must be part of the curse (he did have a normal skin rash). When the doctor killed his uncle, Rupert believed himself cursed and shot himself and referred to the leprosy in his suicide note which everyone took as being metaphorical, not a reality.
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand MetropolitanEdit
Poirot and Hastings are staying at the Grand Metropolitan hotel in Brighton where they meet Mr and Mrs Opalsen. He is a rich stockbroker who amassed a fortune in the oil boom and his wife collects jewellery using the proceeds. She offers to show Poirot her pearls and goes to fetch them from her room but they have been stolen. Poirot is asked to assist. There have only been two people in the room since the pearls were last seen - Mrs Opalsen's maid, Celestine, and the hotel chambermaid. Celestine has orders to remain in the room all of the time that the chambermaid is there. Both girls are questioned and both blame the other. The hotel room has a side room where Celestine sleeps and a bolted door which leads to the room next door. The two maids were in sight of each other all the time except for two pauses of between twelve and fifteen seconds apiece when Celestine went into her room – not enough time to extract the jewel case from the drawer, open it, take the jewels and return the case. Both are searched but nothing is found. Both rooms are then searched and the missing pearls are found underneath Celestine's mattress. The case is seemingly over but Poirot tells Hastings the newly-found necklace is a fake. He questions the chambermaid and the valet who looks after Mr Opalsen and asks them if they have ever seen before a small white card he has found. Neither has. Poirot rushes to London and the next day breaks the news to Hastings and the delighted Opalsens that the case is solved and the real pearls found. The chambermaid and the valet were a pair of international jewel thieves – the card he gave them then had their fingerprints on it which he gave to Japp for testing. The valet was on the other side of the bolted door and the chambermaid passed him the case in the first interval when Celestine was in her room. When she next went in there, the chambermaid returned the empty case to the drawer whose runners had been silenced with French polish, traces of which Poirot found in the room next door. The pearls are found in the valet's room and returned to their grateful owners.
The Kidnapped Prime MinisterEdit
Towards the end of the First World War, Hastings calls on Poirot in his rooms to discuss the sensational news of the day - no less than the attempted assassination of the Prime Minister, David MacAdam. Soon they are interrupted by two important visitors; Lord Estair, Leader of the House of Commons and Bernard Dodge, a member of the War Cabinet. They enlist Poirot for help with a national crisis – the Prime Minister has been kidnapped. He was on his way to a secret peace conference to be held the next day at Versailles. He arrived in Boulogne-sur-Mer where he was met by what was thought to be his official car but it was a substitute. The real car was found in a side road with its driver, an ADC bound and gagged. As they tell Poirot the details, news reaches them by special courier that the bogus car has now been found abandoned and containing Captain Daniels, the Prime Minister’s secretary, chloroformed and gagged. His employer is still missing. Poirot wants to know the full details of the shooting that took place earlier and is told it occurred on the way back from Windsor Castle when, accompanied again by Daniels and the chauffeur, Murphy, the car took a side road and was surrounded by masked men. Murphy stopped and one them shot at the P.M., but only grazing his cheek. Murphy shot off, leaving the would-be murderers behind. The P.M. then stopped off at a small cottage hospital to have his wound bandaged and then went straight on to Charing Cross Station to get the Dover train. Murphy has also disappeared, the P.M.’s car being found outside a Soho restaurant frequented by suspected German agents. As Poirot packs to leave for France he voices his suspicions of both Daniels and Murphy and wonders why such a melodramatic event as "shooting by masked men" took place before the kidnap. Poirot goes over the channel with various detectives involved in the case, among them Japp. Once in Boulogne he refuses to join in the search but sits in his hotel room and thinks for several hours, using the "little grey cells". Suddenly seeing daylight he returns to Britain where, in an official car, he begins a tour of cottage hospitals to the west of London. They then call at a house in Hampstead, the police raid it and recover both Murphy and the Prime Minister. The villain of the piece was Daniels who kidnapped both men in the shooting, taking to London substitutes with the "P.M.’s" face disguised by bandages from a shooting that, in fact, had never occurred and Poirot’s search of the cottage hospitals proved that no one’s face was bandaged up that day. The "kidnap" then took place in France, leaving the investigation concentrated there when the real P.M. had never left the country. Daniels was known to have a "sister" near Hampstead but she is in fact Frau Bertha Ebenthal, a German spy for whom Poirot has been searching for some time. The real Prime Minister is whisked off to Versailles for the conference.
The Disappearance of Mr. DavenheimEdit
Poirot and Hastings are entertaining Japp after they had all attended a magic show when the conversation turns to the recent disappearance of a banker, Mr. Davenheim, from his large country house, the Cedars. Boasting, Poirot makes a five pound bet with Japp that he could solve the case within a week without moving from his chair. The facts of the case are that Davenheim arrived home from the city at midday on Saturday. He seemed normal and went out to post some letters late in the afternoon saying that he was expecting a business visitor, a Mr. Lowen, who should be shown into the study to wait his return. Mr. Davenheim never did return and no trace of him can be found once he left the grounds. The police were called on Sunday morning and on the Monday it was discovered that the concealed safe in Davenheim's study had been broken into and the contents taken out – cash, a large amount of bearer bonds and a substantial collection of jewellery. Despite being in the study, Lowen has not been arrested, merely under observation. He was there to discuss some business in South Africa with Mr. Davenheim who himself was in Johannesburg the previous autumn. Poirot is interested in the fact that the house has a boating lake, which Japp tells him is being searched tomorrow, and that Mr. Davenheim wears his hair rather long with a moustache and bushy beard.
The next day Japp returns with the news that Davenheim's clothes have been found in the lake and that they have arrested Lowen. A common thief called Billy Kellett, known to the police after having served three months the previous year for pick-pocketing, saw Lowen throw Davenheim's ring into a roadside ditch on the Saturday. He picked it up and pawned it in London, got drunk on the proceeds, got arrested and is himself in custody. Poirot is interested in one question of Japp: Did Mr. and Mrs Davenheim share a bedroom? When the matter is investigated and the answer is returned in the negative, Poirot knows the answer and tells Hastings and Japp to withdraw any funds they have in Davenheim's bank before it collapses. When the next day this predicted event occurs, Poirot reveals the truth; Davenheim knew of his bank's financial troubles and started to prepare a new life for himself. Last autumn he did not go to South Africa but instead took on the identity of Billy Kellett. He served three months in jail at the same time he was supposed to be in Johannesburg and then on the Saturday robbed his own safe before Lowen (whom he was setting up) arrived at the house. When Davenheim 'disappeared' he was already in police custody as Kellett and no one would think of looking for a missing man in jail. Mrs Davenheim identifies her husband and Japp pays Poirot his five pounds.
The Adventure of the Italian NoblemanEdit
Poirot and Hastings are in their rooms enjoying the company of a near neighbour, Dr Hawker, when the medical man's housekeeper, Miss Rider, arrives with a message that a client, Count Foscatini, has rung him up crying out for help. Poirot and Hastings join the doctor as he rushes round to Foscatini's flat in Regent's Court.The lift attendant there is unaware of any problems, saying that Graves, the Count's man, left half an hour earlier with no indication of anything wrong. The flat is locked but the manager of the building opens it for them. Inside, they find a table set for three people with the meals finished. The Count is alone and dead – his head crushed in by a small marble statue. Poirot is interested in what remains on the table. He then questions the kitchen staff at the top of the building who outline the meal served and what dirty plates were passed up to them. Poirot seems especially interested in the fact that little of the side dish and none of the dessert were eaten, while the main course was consumed entirely. He also points out that after crying out for help on the phone, the man seemed to replace the receiver. The police arrive at the flat together with the return of the valet, Graves. He tells them how Foscatini was first visited by the two dinner guests on the previous day. They were both Italian; a man in his forties by the name of Count Ascanio and a man of about twenty-four years of age. Graves listened into their first conversation and heard threats uttered. The Count invited the two men to dinner the next evening and unexpectedly gave Graves the night off after dinner and the port had been served. Ascanio is quickly arrested but Poirot speaks of three points of interest: the coffee was very black, the side dish and dessert were relatively untouched, and the curtains were not drawn. The Italian ambassador provides an alibi for Ascanio which leads people to suspect a diplomatic cover-up and Ascanio himself denies knowing Foscatini. Poirot invites Ascanio for a talk and forces him to admit that he did know Foscatini who was a blackmailer and Ascanio's morning appointment was to pay him the money he demanded off a personage in Italy, the transaction being arranged through the embassy at which Ascanio worked. After Ascanio leaves, Poirot tells Hastings the solution: Graves was the killer. He overheard the monetary transaction and realised that Ascanio couldn't admit to the full relationship with Foscatini. The dead man had no dinner guests. Graves killed him when he was alone, then ordered dinner for three and ate as much of the food as he could; after consuming the three main courses, though, he could only eat a little of the side and no dessert. He even drank coffee and smoked cigars to carry out the illusion. Coffee was served for three (and supposedly drunk), but Foscatine's brilliant white teeth shows that he never drank such staining substances. Finally, the open curtains show that Graves left the flat before night fell and not after, which would not have happened if Graves' account were true. Poirot is proven right when Japp is told of the theory and investigates. Graves nearly escapes on his boat, the Fantasia Felice (which is Italian for the Happy Dream) but is arrested and convicted.
The Case of the Missing WillEdit
Poirot receives an unusual request for help from a Miss Violet Marsh. She was orphaned at fourteen years of age and went to live with her Uncle Andrew, recently returned from making his fortune in Australia, at his large farmhouse in Devon. He had old-fashioned views concerning the education of women and was opposed to his niece bettering herself through book learning. Violet rebelled against him and managed to get herself in Girton College some nine years before. Although somewhat strained, she maintained cordial relations with Andrew Marsh who died a month ago leaving a will with a strange clause. The will is dated March 25 and timed at 11.00am. Marsh has given instructions that his "clever" niece is allowed to live in his house for one month and in that time she has to "prove her wits". If at the end of that time she hasn’t, all his worldly goods go to charitable institutions and she is left with nothing. Poirot is as convinced as Miss Marsh that there is either a second will or a sum of money hidden in the house and agrees to look for it.
Travelling to Devon, Poirot and Hastings are looked after by Mr and Mrs Baker, Marsh’s kindly housekeepers. They tell Poirot that they signed and witnessed two wills as Marsh said he had made a mistake with the first although they didn’t see the contents. Immediately after this transaction, Marsh left the house to settle tradesmen’s accounts without divulging anything further. Looking round the house, Poirot is pleased with the dead man’s order and method with the exception of one aspect – the key to a rolltop desk is not affixed to a neat label but instead to a dirty envelope. Poirot interviews some workmen who created a secret cavity in the wall for Marsh but finds nothing there. After a long search, he declares himself beaten and is about to return to London when he suddenly remembers the visit Marsh made to the tradesmen after the will was signed. He rushes back to the house and holds up the opened envelope to the fire. Faint writing in invisible ink appears which is a will dated after the one in Violet’s possession leaving everything to her. Marsh had had the Bakers sign two wills as a ruse. The tradesmen in town signed the true second will which he turned into an envelope attached to a key and this was out of keeping with his other household methods as a deliberate clue. According to Poirot, Miss Marsh has proven her superior intelligence – she employed him on the case!
American version of bookEdit
The American version of the book, published one year later, featured an additional three stories which did not appear in book form in the UK until 1974 with the publication of Poirot's Early Cases.
Literary significance and receptionEdit
The review in the Times Literary Supplement of April 3, 1924 began with a note of caution but then became more positive: "When in the first of M. Poirot's adventures, we find a famous diamond that has been the eye of a god and a cryptic message that it will be taken from its possessor 'at the full of the moon' we are inclined to grow indignant on behalf of our dear old friend the moonstone. But we have no right to do so, for the story is quite original". The review further described Poirot as "a thoroughly pleasant and entertaining person".
The New York Times Book Review chose to review the 1924 UK publication of the novel in its edition of April 20 that year, rather than wait for the 1925 Dodd, Mead publication. The unnamed reviewer liked the book but seemed to consider the stories to be somewhat clichéd and not totally original, making several comparisons to Sherlock Holmes. He began, "Agatha Christie’s hero…is traditional almost to caricature, but his adventures are amusing and the problems which he unravels skilfully tangled in advance." He did admit that, "it is to be feared that some of the evidence [Poirot] collects would fare badly in criminal courts" but concluded, "Miss Christie’s new book, in a word, is for the lightest of reading. But its appeal is disarmingly modest, and it will please the large public which relishes stories of crime, but likes its crime served decorously."
The Observer of March 30, 1924 said, "The short story is a sterner test of the 'detective' writer than the full-grown novel. With ample space almost any practised writer can pile complication upon complication, just as any man could made a puzzling maze out of a ten-acre field. But to pack mystery, surprise and a solution into three or four thousand words is to achieve a feat. There is no doubt about Miss Christie's success in the eleven tales (why not a round dozen?) published in this volume. All of them have point and ingenuity, and if M. Poirot is infallibly and exasperatingly omniscient, well, that is the function of the detective in fiction." Unlike The New York Times, the reviewer favourably compared some of the stories to those of Sherlock Holmes and concluded, "We hope that the partnership [of Poirot, Hastings and Japp] will last long and yield many more narratives as exciting as these. With The Mysterious Affair at Styles and this volume to her credit (to say nothing of others) Miss Christie must be reckoned in the first rank of the detective story writers."
The Scotsman of April 19, 1924 said, "It might have been thought that the possibilities of the super-detective, for the purposes of fiction, had been almost exhausted. Miss Agatha Christie, however, has invested the type with a new vitality in her Hercule Poirot, and in Poirot Investigates she relates some more of his adventures. Poirot is most things that the conventional sleuth is not. He is gay, gallant, transparently vain, and the adroitness with which he solves a mystery has more of the manner of the prestidigitator than of the cold-blooded, relentless tracker-down of crime of most detective stories. He has a Gallic taste for the dramatic, and in The Tragedy of Marsdon Manor he perhaps gives it undue rein, but mainly the eleven stories in the book are agreeably free from the elaborate contrivance which is always rather a defect in such tales. Poirot is confronted with a problem and Miss Christie is always convincing in the manner in which she shows how he lights upon a clue and follows it up.
Robert Barnard: "Early stories, written very much under the shadow of Holmes and Watson. The tricks are rather repetitive and the problems lack variety".
References in other worksEdit
The Prime Minister featured in the story The Kidnapped Prime Minister is also referenced in the 1923 short story The Submarine Plans which was published in book form in the 1974 collection Poirot's Early Cases. It is possible that his name is a celtic play on words of the real Prime Minister of the latter days of the First World War, David Lloyd George.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptationsEdit
Hercule Poirot (The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim)Edit
"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim" was presented as a thirty-minute play by CBS as an episode in the series General Electric Theater on April 1, 1962 under the title of Hercule Poirot. Introduced by Ronald Reagan and directed by John Brahm, the adaptation starred Martin Gabel as Poirot, this being the television debut of the character.
Agatha Christie's PoirotEdit
All of the stories contained in Poirot Investigates have been adapted as episodes in the ITV television series Agatha Christie's Poirot with David Suchet in the role of Poirot, Hugh Fraser as Hastings, Philip Jackson as Japp and Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon. As is the custom with these adaptations, they differ somewhat from the book. (In the Disappearance of Mr Davenheim, Hastings plays a large role and in a complete change from the book, Poirot gets a parrot (leading to one of the famous exchanges: Delivery boy: "I've a parrot here for Mr Poy-rott." Poirot: "It is pronounced 'Pwa-roh'." Delivery boy: "Oh sorry. I've a Poirot here for a Mr Poy-rott."). "The Case of the Missing Will" was, in particular, heavily adapted: The death of Andrew Marsh is adapted into a Murder. The Missing Will of the title was changed: it is not a hidden will but an old document that is stolen from the Marsh's papers after it is made clear that Marsh intends to write a new will leaving everything to Violet. In "The Million Dollar Bond Robbery", the ships that feature in it are changed from the Olympia and the Gigantic to the Queen Mary and the Berengaria.
The adaptations (in order of transmission) were:
- The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim: February 4, 1990
- The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: February 18, 1990
- The Kidnapped Prime Minister: February 25, 1990
- The Adventure of the "Western Star": March 4, 1990
- The Million Dollar Bond Robbery: January 13, 1991
- The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor: February 3, 1991
- The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge: March 10, 1991
- The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb: January 17, 1993
- The Case of the Missing Will: February 7, 1993
- The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman: February 14, 1993
- The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan: March 7, 1993
- 1924, John Lane (The Bodley Head), March 1924, Hardcover, 310 pp
- 1925, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1925, Hardcover, 282 pp
- 1928, John Lane (The Bodley Head), March 1928, Hardcover (Cheap edition - two shillings)
- 1931, John Lane (The Bodley Head, February 1931), As part of the An Agatha Christie Omnibus along with The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Links, Hardback (Priced at seven Shillings and sixpence, a cheaper edition at five shillings was published in October 1932).
- 1943, Dodd Mead and Company, As part of the Triple Threat along with Partners in Crime and The Mysterious Mr. Quin), Hardback
- 1955, Pan Books, Paperback (Pan number 326) 192 pp
- 1956, Avon Books (New York), Avon number 716, Paperback
- 1958, Pan Books, Paperback (Great Pan G139)
- 1961, Bantam Books, Paperback, 198 pp
- 1989, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
- 2007, Facsimile of 1924 UK first edition (HarperCollins), November 5, 2007, Hardcover, 326 pp ISBN 0-00-726520-4
Chapters from the book appeared in Agatha Christie's Crime Reader, published by Cleveland Publishing in 1944 along with other selections from Partners in Crime and The Mysterious Mr. Quin.
First publication of storiesEdit
All of the stories were first published, unillustrated, in the UK in The Sketch magazine. Christie wrote them following a suggestion from its editor, Bruce Ingram, who had been impressed with the character of Poirot in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The stories first appeared in The Sketch as follows:
- The Adventure of "The Western Star": April 11, 1923 - Issue 1576
- The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor: April 18, 1923 - Issue 1577
- The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: May 9, 1923 - Issue 1580
- The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge: May 16, 1923 - Issue 1581
- The Million Dollar Bond Robbery: May 2, 1923 - Issue 1579
- The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb: September 26, 1923 - Issue 1600
- The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan: March 14, 1923 - Issue 1572 (under the title The Curious Disappearance of the Opalsen Pearls)
- The Kidnapped Prime Minister: April 25, 1923 - Issue 1578
- The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim: March 28, 1923 - Issue 1574
- The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman: October 24, 1923 - Issue 1604
- The Case of the Missing Will: October 31, 1923 - Issue 1605
In the US, all of the stories first appeared in the monthly Blue Book Magazine. Each story carried a small, uncredited illustration. The publication order was as follows:
- The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan: October 1923 – Volume 37, Number 6 (under the title Mrs. Opalsen’s Pearls)
- The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim: December 1923 – Volume 38, Number 2 (under the title Mr Davenby Disappears – the character’s name was changed throughout this original magazine publication)
- The Adventure of The Western Star: February 1924 - Volume 38, Number 4 (under the title The Western Star)
- The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor: March 1924 – Volume 38, Number 5 (under the title The Marsdon Manor Tragedy)
- The Million Dollar Bond Robbery: April 1924 – Volume 38, Number 6 (under the title The Great Bond Robbery)
- The Adventure of the Cheap Flat: May 1924 – Volume 39, Number 1
- The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge: June 1924 – Volume 39, Number 2 (under the title The Hunter’s Lodge Case)
- The Kidnapped Prime Minister: July 1924 – Volume 39, Number 3 (under the title The Kidnapped Premier – although the title "Prime Minister" was used within the text of the story)
- The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb: August 1924 – Volume 39, Number 4 (under the title The Egyptian Adventure)
- The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman: December 1924 – Volume 40, Number 2 (under the title The Italian Nobleman)
- The Case of the Missing Will: January 1925 – Volume 40, Number 3 (under the title The Missing Will)
- The Chocolate Box: February 1925 – Volume 40, Number 4
- The Veiled Lady: March 1925 – Volume 40, Number 5
- The Lost Mine: April 1925 – Volume 40, Number 6
Publication of book collectionEdit
The preparation of the book marked a further downturn in the relationship between Christie and the Bodley Head. She had become aware that the six-book contract she had signed with John Lane had been unfair to her in its terms. At first she meekly accepted Lane's strictures about what would be published by them but by the time of Poirot Investigates Christie insisted that their suggested title of The Grey Cells of Monsieur Poirot was not to her liking and that the book was to be included in the tally of six books within her contract - the Bodley Head opposed this because the stories had already been printed in The Sketch. Christie held out and won her case.
This was the first Christie book to carry no dedication.
The dustjacket front flap of the first edition carried no specially written blurb. Instead it carried quotes from reviews for In the Mayor's Parlour by J. S. Fletcher whilst the back flap carried the same for The Perilous Transactions of Mr. Collin by Frank Heller.
- German: Poirot rechnet ab (Poirot Takes a Task), first edition in 1959: Poirot rechnet ab: Kriminalgeschichten (Poirot Takes a Task: Crime Stories)
Die Augen der Gottheit (The Eyes of the Deity)
Die Tragödie von Marsdon Manor (The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor)
Die mysteriöse Wohnung (The mysterious Flat)
Das Mysterium von Hunter's Lodge (The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge)
Der raffinierte Aktiendiebstahl (The Sly Bonds Robbery)
Das Abenteuer des ägyptischen Grabes (The Adventure of The Egyptian Tomb)
Der Juwelenraub im Grand Hotel (The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Hotel)
Der entführte Premierminister (The Kidnapped Prime Minister)
Das Verschwinden von Mrs. Davenheim (The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim)
Das Abenteuer des italienischen Edelmannes (The Adventure of The Italian Nobleman)
Das fehlende Testament (The Missing Will)
- Russian: Пуаро ведёт следствие (=Puaro vedyot sledstvie, Poirot holds investigation)
- Spanish: Poirot Investiga
- French: Les Enquêtes d'Hercule Poirot