Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)

November 27, 2016 - Comment

Nearly a quarter-century after her death, Agatha Christie remains the most popular mystery writer of all time. Now, in a celebrated publishing event, fans and newcomers alike are treated to another Christie novel. Created in 1930 as a stage play and faithfully adapted by Charles Osborne, Black Coffee brings back beloved detective Hercule Poirot to

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Nearly a quarter-century after her death, Agatha Christie remains the most popular mystery writer of all time. Now, in a celebrated publishing event, fans and newcomers alike are treated to another Christie novel. Created in 1930 as a stage play and faithfully adapted by Charles Osborne, Black Coffee brings back beloved detective Hercule Poirot to exercise his “little grey cells” one more deliciously deductive time…

An urgent call from physicist Sir Claud Amory sends famed detective Hercule Poirot rushing from London to a sprawling country estate. Sir Claud fears a member of his own household wants to steal a secret formula destined for the Ministry of Defense. But Poirot arrives too late. The formula is missing. Worse, Sir Claud has been poisoned by his after-dinner coffee. Poirot soon identifies a potent brew of despair, treachery, and deception amid the mansion’s occupants. Now he must find the formula and the killer…while letting no poison slip ‘twix his low lips.

Subtitled A Hercule Poirot Novel, Black Coffee is actually an Agatha Christie play recrafted as a book meant to be read rather than seen on the stage. The story was first produced in 1930, and Charles Osborne has done little to it except string the dialogue and stage directions together in paragraph form. Christie loyalists will welcome and applaud his dedication to the original, but it does seem as though he could have given it a bit more flair. Still, Poirot himself, bumbling Captain Hastings, and obsequious George are all in good form and it is amusing to find them engaged in another adventure, with an interesting assortment of possible murderers, blackmailers, and innocent (if suspicious) bystanders.

The novel opens as Poirot receives a summons at his breakfast table from England’s premier physicist, Sir Claud Amory. Busy working on a new formula necessary for England’s defense in the Second World War, Amory suspects a member of his household of espionage. Of course, by the time Poirot and sidekick Hastings arrive at the scientist’s country house, he is suddenly and mysteriously dead. Amory himself turns out to have been not quite nice, and his family, regardless of his scientific efforts, is pretty pleased with the new state of affairs. Still, Poirot manages both to save the more amiable members of the household from themselves and to protect the secrets of the British Empire. The novel is warmly evocative of another time and place and a welcome reminder of vintage Christie. –K.A. Crouch

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Comments

I.Faculty says:

I didn’t really like the plot of the story It was alright. Personally, I didn’t really like the plot of the story. It has a murder for Hercule Poirot to solve, but then he also has to worry about something the killer stole. I’m not going to go to in detail about the story because I don’t want to ruin it for those who want to read it. As someone who has read the Hercule Poirot series with such interest, I have to say that I was disappointed. Poirot and Captain Hastings, who does make an appearance in this book, were in certainly in…

Matilda de Nada says:

An adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Play by Charles Osborne Obviously, I missed something when I read the blurb describing this book, and I feel this is a somewhat misleading representation on the part of Amazon. In spite of the fact the name Agatha Christie is clearly listed as the author on the Amazon “Buy it here” page and even in the book description on the same page this is actually an adaptation, by Charles Osborne, of Agatha Christie’s play, Black Coffee. Although disappointed that it was an adaptation and not the real thing; nevertheless, I did…

Mrs. Glam says:

Christie-esque But Falls Flat I purchased this story in my quest to own and read each Poirot mystery. I was fresh off of “Cat Among the Pigeons”, “And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians)” and “Cards on the Table”. I had such high hopes for this novel. However, I was thoroughly disappointed in “Black Coffee”. I could not put my finger on what was “off” about this particular novel, until I got to the very end, and realized that this was a “re-envisioned” Christie piece…

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