This my dear readers is the first Agatha Christie mystery published. It is also the first Hercule Poirot novel. I believe this answers one of the questions on one of the quizzes or tests that I created.
Capt. Hastings (the narrator)- he is on sick leave from the miliatary
Hercule Poirot- old friend of Hastings; he is in exile from Belgium
Chief Inspector Japp of Scotland Yar
Emily Inglethorp- the victim
Alfred Inglethorp-her much younger husband
John Cavendish, the elder stepson
Mary Cavendish, John’s spouse
Lawrence Cavendish,- John’s younger brother
Evelyn Howard- companion to the victim
Cynthia Murdoch- friend of the family
Dr. Bauerstein- toxicologist.
After an evening of entertaining, Emily Inglethorp is found poisoned in her locked bedroom. It turns out to be a case of strychnine poisoning. Strychnine is an alkaloid used as pesticides for rodents. During this time period, strychnine was used in medications as stimulant, a laxative, and treatment for stomach ailments. It seems everyone is a suspect- here gold digging husband, companion, best friend- it seems everyone has a reason for wanting dear Emily dead and gone.
The suspicion falls on the younger husband, naturally of course, because he gains the most under the will. Hastings calls in Poirot to help solve this befuddling crime. He discovers that early that day Emily was heard arguing with a man either her husband or stepson. Following this argument she made a new will which seems to be missing. The will had been in a document case in her bedroom. Two people are discovered to have bought strychnine days before the murder- Alfred and John. The only hitch in suspecting Alfred is that he left earlier that evening and spent the night in a nearby village; so he was not present to administer the poison. Then there is the next hurdle to overcome, which is that no one seems to know how the poison was administered. As typical in her novels, the police nab the wrong person, but Hercule Poirot always gets his man.
I find it difficult to figure out who’s done it in the Hercule Poirot novel. It’s not the logical deduction that’s the problem. It’s just the sheer amount of characters in the book. I mean keeping track of who touched what, when is quite difficult, especially as Poirot seems to interrogate people at random. But there were a fair amount of red herrings. As is his style, Poirot sets people up three ways from Christmas in order to entrap someone else. There are many times I found myself smacking my forehead. As a character Poirot is interesting. He operates, much like Miss Marple, by setting people up to under estimate him. It is constantly stated in this series that British people distrust foreigners. The British treat him as inferior. I suppose he is a great deal to blame as he will insist on acting like a fussy old lady. But underestimating him proves to be people’s undoing.