Title: Poirot Loses A Client (aka Dumb Witness)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication Year: 1937
Count for Year: 53
How I discovered
I have joined Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise with her Agatha Christie Reading Challenge and this is part of that.
In this intricate mystery, Poirot receives a letter — two months after it was written — from rich spinster Emily Arundell about a possible attempt on her life. Poirot heads to her hometown of Market Basing and finds her already dead. Poirot must contend with a cold trail and the strange villagers to solve a murder that confounds even his superior skills.
synopsis from Barnes & Noble (click cover to be taken to site)
Even though Poirot could have just let this one go, because the client was already dead and it was not clear if a murder had been committed at first, Poirot, being Poirot, cannot let it go. Why? For Poirot, he must always get the truth — and the murderer, even if he/she thinks he/she got away with it.
As Poirot tells Capt. Hastings at one point during the investigation:
The dog hunts rabbits. Hercule Poirot hunts murderers. We have here a murderer– a murderer whose crimes failed, yes, perhaps, but nevertheless a murderer. And I, my friend, am going into the burrow after him — or her as the case may be.
As usual, “going into the burrow” after the murderer, with Poirot involves subterfuge, a.k.a. telling lies to other people. For example, at one point, he pretends to be a biographer for the family of the woman killed. Then later he acts the part of an investigator on how a brother and sister can break a will that was changed weeks before the death of the victim (in this case, their aunt).
Hastings asks Poirot if it is “really necessary to tell such elaborate lies,” to which Poirot responds:
“If one is going to tell a lie — and I notice, by the way, that your nature is very much averse to lying– now me, it does not trouble me at all–…if one is going to tell a lie at all, it might as well be an artistic lie, a romantic lie, a convincing lie!”
The usual suspects include family members and a devoted housekeeper, who seemed to benefit by receiving everything in the will over the relatives. However, naturally not all is at it seems with everyone having a motive and Poirot having to dig out the answer of who did it.
Personally, it had me guessing until the murder/murderess was revealed, and 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