Lord Edgware Dies (1933) – Agatha Christie

Murder most foul! Three of them in point of fact, but don’t be fooled by the image on the cover of the book, none of them are committed with a pistol!

It’s been awhile since I read an Agatha Christie mystery, other books came along, and I knew her library of work would wait patiently for me, still it was wonderful to dive into the next book in the series.

This one sees Hercule Poirot back in England, with his friend Captain Hastings (the narrator) beside him, as the pair find themselves enmeshed in a murder mystery involving love, actors, impersonators, lies, appearances, titles, and a pair of glasses.

There are a few things I caught as I puzzled my way through the mystery, and much like Poirot through the course of the book, I went looking for a more complicated answer, because that’s how things play out in these books. So both he and I had the wool pulled over our eyes a couple of times, but I was close on a couple of the clues, which left me feeling quite vindicated.

The tale sees a young woman, Lady Edgware coming to Poirot for help. She hopes the detective can help persuade her husband to agree to a divorce, she wants to remarry, and marry up, securing a stronger title for herself even while she explores her stagecraft to acclaim on the London stage. When Lord Edgware ends up dead, who could have committed it? There are alibis, and puzzles aplenty on the road to discovery.

Weaving into the tale is an impersonator, Carlotta Adams, who has her Lady Edgware impersonation down pat, a number of friends, fellow actors, hat-makers and servants. It’s often rather amusing in these novels how many people of a certain class ignore the mere presence of the servant class, and how others use them.

As usual, all the clues are there, and can be seen for what they are with hindsight. That, for me, makes it a fun read, but this time around there weren’t quite as many humorous moments in this work as there were in previous pieces by Christie, and I was a little troubled by some of the racist and anti-Semitic remarks made by some of the characters in the early pages of the novel. I understand it was the time, and that was simply how people were, but it’s still jarring to read, and to realize that such things were ever acceptable.

As Poirot puts his little grey cells to work, Hastings attempts to follow along, and with him serving as our narrator, we occasionally get misled by his thought processes, which may have interfered with my own deductions in the case. My first instinct was right, I just couldn’t put all the pieces together…

Perhaps next time, when I dive into another collection of Christie’s short stories, all packed up in The Hound of Death.

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