Title: Lord Edgware Dies (Hercule Poirot #9)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication year: 1933
Plot summary: Poirot had been present when Jane bragged of her plan to ‘get rid of’ her estranged husband. Now the monstrous man was dead. And yet the great Belgian detective couldn’t help feeling that he was being taken for a ride.
After all, how could Jane have stabbed Lord Edgware to death in his library at exactly the same time she was seen dining with friends? And what could be her motive now that the aristocrat had finally granted her a divorce?
Every blog has a first post, and it seems fitting that this one start with a post about a book written by Agatha Christie, since I’ve spent years in the process of reading everything by her.
Back in 2015, I spent the better part of six months reading her entire Poirot canon. I realized several things through this process, the most important of which was that I still love the hell out of Agatha Christie. I’ve never been as partial to her Marple books, and not all of her Poirot mysteries can fairly be quantified as great, but for the most part, even the mediocre Christie is a fantastically entertaining read.
Let me briefly digress to talk about spoilers. I will not intentionally spoil the solution here, although it is possible that my discussion may inadvertently reveal plot points. I will also work hard to avoid gendering a role – which is why, when I say murderer/ess, it means nothing more than that I’m trying not to reveal if the murderer is male or female.
Lord Edgware Dies is not my favorite Poirot – not by a long shot. The solution isn’t particularly ingenious, although I do think that Agatha did a good job with an illustration of an utterly vapid and sociopathic mind. It’s always easier to zero in on the clues one the second, or even third, reading, once I know who the killer actually is. In this one, Christie sprinkles the clues throughout the book, and even gives us a listing, by Poirot, late in the book, of the five questions he needs to answer in order to put the solution together.
I selected this one for a reread because I was working on the subgenre of London murders, which is Chapter 8 of the Martin Edwards The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, a book which I will probably reference frequently. Lord Edware Dies is one of Christie’s London stories, and does a good job of evoking life in London in the 1930’s among the theater set. Most of my impressions of England during the interwar period come from literature, especially the mysteries written by Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer, so I have no idea how accurate they are.
A word about the BBC adaptation: The David Suchet adaptations are, on the whole, quite good and this was no exception to that rule. The actor who played Donald Ross overdid the Scottish accent a bit, and I wasn’t crazy about the actress who was chosen to play Jane Wilkinson, but the adaptation is faithful to the book, and Suchet is wonderful. It’s one of the later Hastings books, where he has returned from Argentina after some difficulties with his wife, and it’s always nice to see Hugh Fraser playing the genial sidekick. This is one of his last outings, sadly.