Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cards on the Table - Agatha Christie

First published 1935; cover shown is the 1966 Collins Crime Club hardcover edition. Cover artist unknown. 286p.

This is one of those Christie novels reference books refer to as 'unfortunate' because of the obvious racism. The murder victim is from Syria, and is referred to as a Dago by quite a few of the characters.

"Why did you want to kick him, Major Despard?"

"Because he was the sort of Dago who needed kicking badly. He used to make the toe of my boot fairly itch."

Once you look past the bigotry (which was rife in a lot of Golden Age detective fiction - English and American), the plot is an intriguing one. A man is murdered while four people play bridge in the same room. One of the four is the killer. To make things just that more interesting, in an adjoining room sat Hercule Poirot, mystery writer Mrs Oliver, Superintendent Battle from Scotland Yard, and Secret Service operative Colonel Race.

Add to that the fact that all four of the suspects have murdered in the past - and gotten away with it - and Battle and Poirot have a more difficult than normal task on their hands. With some help from Colonel Race and Mrs Oliver (once again seemingly modelled on Christie herself), they delve into the pasts of all four, uncovering secrets and causing varying reactions in each of the suspects.

This is not one of Christie's best, with clumsy handling of a few of the characters. The twists and counter-twists at the end are also a little too much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you like to sell this copy to me? I've been looking for ages for this one with the blue cover (instead of the green) If you're interested, contact me on Annemarie.wierda@nationaalarchief.