Agatha Christie’s first collection of short stories, first published in 1924, sets forth a number of mysteries before her Belgian creation, Hercule Poirot, his little grey cells and his good friend Captain Hastings. While still capturing some of the humour of her novels, the short form of the stories doesn’t allow for a lot of character development, or clever reveals, and most of the stories just read as enjoyable, distracting fare before indulging in the real meat found in her novels.
There are eleven tales altogether, and the collection makes for a fun read. Included in the stories are:
The Adventure of the Western Star is the first story in the collection, and despite some racial slurs is a quick and fun mystery that sees Captain Hastings and Hercule Poirot looking into a mysterious diamond known as the Star of the West, and it’s counterpart the Star of the East and a legend that has sprung up around them, all of it tying in with a pair of American movie stars, some debt issues of British nobility, and threatening letters.
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor sees the pair investigating a mysterious death at the request of an insurance company. If it’s a suicide, the company won’t pay out, but the true mystery occurs at night, when supernatural events seem to occur, which may flush out the truth, and reveal a murderer.
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat sees Poirot taking on a different kind of investigation, a very cheap flat in a very posh end of town. Looking into the flat unveils a lot more going on than an affordable place to live.
The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge, after recovering from a bout of influenza, which Poirot is still suffering from, Hastings works on solving a murder. And even from his sick bed, Poirot is able to solve the case and out think Hastings.
The Million Dollar Bond Robbery sees the pair investigating a bond theft that occurred on the ocean transit from England to America. A theft that may cause a young man his promising career in the family business.
The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb sees Poirot and Hastings involved in an archaeological mystery, and a mummy’s tomb! They travel to Egypt (despite Poirot’s distaste of sea travel, and the accompanying seasickness). Is there a curse at work for disrupting the eternal sleep of a long dead king or is there a more practical explanation? Those little grey cells are put to work!
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan a getaway to Brighton and the Grand Metropolitan lands Poirot into a jewellery theft and its subsequent investigation.
The Kidnapped Prime Minister set during the First World War after Hastings had been invalided out, he and Poirot find themselves embroiled in events that could have reshaped the outcome of the war
The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim sees Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard joining Poirot and Hastings for a cop of hot cocoa and discussing a disappearance, something that soon draws on the grey cells of Poirot to resolve… from his armchair.
The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman sees Poirot and Hastings head to a lush hotel to investigate a murder that leads them on a curious trail to the truth, as blackmail and threats come into play.
The Case of the Missing Will features a young, educated woman who comes to Poirot for help regarding her missing uncle’s will. He didn’t hold with the education of women, and though the two cared for one another, they had a falling out, but she still suspects that he treated her well in his final words, allowing her the home and farm for one year to prove herself, and find another will, which she believes is hidden somewhere in the house – a test of her ingenuity and education. Can Poirot deduce where it is in the last eight pages of this collection? And where will it leave the young woman by tale’s end?
My next adventure with Agatha Christie will see her return to novels, and Hercule Poirot with The Big Four!