Cards on The Table

Agatha Christie CollectionTitle: Cards on The Table
Author: Agatha Christie Publication
Year: 1936
Pages: 197
Genre: Mystery
Count for Year: 47

How I discovered

I have joined Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise with her Agatha Christie Reading Challenge and this is part of that. Also this last week was Agatha Christie Week, which coincides with a celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday, Sept. 15, 1890, and for that, my goal was to read a novel per day and posting a review here. I did read this one last week, along with five others: The Boomerang Clue, Murder in Three Acts, Death In The Air, The A.B.C. Murders and Murder in Mesopotamia

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The setup

Hercule Poirot is invited to a party with four murderers who got away with their crime, according to the party host. Upon arriving, he finds himself one of four detectives: Superintendent Battle and Colonel Race, both of whom have appeared in Christie works previously, and Mrs. Oliver, a mystery novelist perhaps modeled after Christie herself. One of the four alleged murderers kills the host during a bridge game, and then the real game begins.

The review

To Poirot, of course, the bridge scores are the key, although Battle doesn’t understand: “What’s the idea of the bridge scores, Monsieur Poirot?” to which Poirot answers:

“They are illuminating, do you not think? What do want in this case? A clue to character. And a clue not to one character, but to four characters. And this is where we are most likely to find it– in these scribbled figures…”

“You think, perhaps, that they are foolish, these questions that I ask? But it is not so. I want to get at the characters of these four players, and when it is only about bridge I ask, everyone is willing and ready to speak.”

The crime itself,as Poirot himself later describes, has “no tangible clues– no fingerprints, no incriminating papers or documents.” The only clue, he says are the people themselves…

“And one tangible clue, the bridge scores. “You may remember that from the beginning I showed a particular interest in those scores. They told me something about the various people who had kept them, and they did more. They gave me one valuable hint…”

That hint? I will not tell, but will say that the way in which Poirot gets to his conclusion is fascinating. In this one, maybe more than any other of the mysteries so far that he has investigated, is the focus on the psychological games that a murderer plays. For that reason, I give this one a 4 out of 5.

My rating system: 5- Classic, must read 4- Worth owning a copy 3- Worth picking up at library 2- Worth skimming at the bookstore 1- Worth being a doorstop For others reviews and thoughts on the book: