Title: Poirot Investigates.
Author: Agatha Christie.
Genre: Fiction, literature, mystery, short stories, detective fiction, crime, humour.
Publication Date: 1924 (American version with last 3 stories added 1925).
Summary: This collection includes 14 short stories detailing exploits and cases of Hercule Poirot. In The Adventure of the Western Star, Poirot and Hastings are faced with the mystery of the movie star and the missing diamond. In The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor, Poirot and Hastings investigate a case of suicide that may or may not be murder. In The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, Poirot chooses to look into the case when one of Hastings's friends is shocked to have rented am absurdly cheap flat. The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge is a story of a suspicions death in a locked gun room. In The Million Dollar Bond Robbery, a million dollar bond is stolen on a sea journey, but even though they're sold shortly after the boat docks, there is no trace of it ever having been taken ashore. In The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb, Poirot and Hastings investigate a series of deaths that appear to have been caused by a cursed pharaoh's tomb. The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan is a story of a stolen jewel that appears open-and-shut, but for the ingenuity of the robbers. In The Kidnapped Prime Minister, towards the end of WWI, Poirot and Hastings are time-pressed to locate the abducted prime minister before his absence causes an international disaster. In The Disappearance of Dr. Davenheim, Poirot makes a bet with Inspector Japp that he can solve the confusing case of the missing banker in one week. The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman sees Poirot and Hastings summoned by a telephone call of a dying man, the discovery of whose brutal murder on their arrival becomes a new and mysterious case. In The Case of the Missing Will, a young woman seeks Poirot's help to solve a scavenger hunt her late uncle left for her in order to find (and thus deserve) his large inheritance. In The Veiled Lady, a beautiful woman calls upon Poirot to retrieve a letter from a man who is black-mailing her that would end her engagement if discovered, but Poirot quickly finds all is not as it seems in the seemingly simple case.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ "Always with you it is the nonessentials! Remember the case of the dancer, Valerie Saintclair.”
I shrugged my shoulders, slightly annoyed.
“But console yourself, mon ami,” said Poirot, calming down. “All cannot be as Hercule Poirot! I know it well.”
“You really have the best opinion of yourself of anyone I ever knew!” I cried, divided between amusement and annoyance.
“What will you? When one is unique, one knows it! And others share that opinion..."
♥ I heard Poirot murmur beneath his breath: “Ah, c’est comme ça!” Then he said aloud, with his usual uncanny luck in hitting the bull’s-eye (he dignifies it by the name of psychology):...
♥ “So, having—pardon the expression—rather made a mess of things, don’t you think it would be more graceful to leave immediately?”
“And the dinner, the without doubt excellent dinner, that the chef of Lord Yardly has prepared?”
“Oh, what’s dinner!” I said impatiently.
Poirot held up his hands in horror.
“Mon Dieu! It is that in this country you treat the affairs gastronomic with a criminal indifference.”
♥ “Poirot,” I said. “Am I quite demented?”
“No, mon ami, but you are, as always, in a mental fog.”
♥ “Si, si, mon ami, it is a pity that you study not the psychology. She told you that the letters were destroyed? Oh, la la, never does a woman destroy a letter if she can avoid it! Not even if it would be more prudent to do so!”
♥ “I’m fed up!” I went out, banging the door. Poirot had made an absolute laughingstock of me. I decided that he needed a sharp lesson. I would let some time elapse before I forgave him. He had encouraged me to make a perfect fool of myself.
~~The Adventure of the Western Star.
♥ "In any case, my friend Alfred Wright, who is a director of the Northern Union, has asked me to investigate the facts of the case, but, as I told him, I am not very hopeful of success. If the cause of the death had been heart failure, I should have been more sanguine. Heart failure may always be translated as the inability of the local GP to discover what his patient really did die of, but a haemorrhage seems fairly definite."
♥ “And what do you think of Dr. Bernard, Hastings?” inquired Poirot, as we proceeded on our way to the Manor.
“Rather an old ass.”
“Exactly. Your judgements of character are always profound, my friend.”
I glanced at him uneasily, but he seemed perfectly serious. A twinkle, however, came into his eye, and he added slyly:
“That is to say, where there is no question of a beautiful woman!”
~~The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor.
♥ Did she impress you as being a truthful woman, Hastings?”
“She was a delightful creature!”
“Evidemment! since she renders you incapable of replying to my question."
♥ "...and raising the revolver he fired point-blank at the woman’s retreating figure just as I flung myself upon him.
But the weapon merely clicked harmlessly and Poirot’s voice rose in mild reproof.
“Never will you trust your old friend, Hastings. I do not care for my friends to carry loaded pistols about with them and never would I permit a mere acquaintance to do so."
~~The Adventure of the Cheap Flat.
♥ "..Well, Japp must do what he can—I have written him fully—but I very much fear, Hastings, that we shall be obliged to leave them to Fate, or le bon Dieu, whichever you prefer.”
“The wicked flourish like a green bay tree,” I reminded him.
“But at a price, Hastings, always at a price, croyez-moi! ”
~~The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge.
♥ "..I beg of you not to assault me if I ask you one more question."
♥ "But if you know who stole the bonds, why wait? He may escape."
To a South Sea island where there is no extradition? No, mon ami, he would find life very uncongenial there. As to why I wait—en bien, to the intelligence of Hercule Poirot the case is perfectly clear, but for the benefit of others, not so greatly gifted by the good God—the Inspector, McNeil. for instance—it would be as well to make a few inquiries to establish the facts. One must have consideration for those less gifted than oneself."
~~The Million Dollar Bond Robbery.
♥ For my part I had never before suspected that Poirot had so deep a vein of superstition in his nature. I tackled him on the subject as we went homewards. His manner was grave and earnest.
"But yes, Hastings. I believe in these things. You must no underestimate the force of superstition."
.."Dr. Ames?" I cried, stupefied. "But I thought you believed in some occult influence?"
"You misunderstood me, Hastings. What I meant was that I believe in the terrific force of superstition. Once I got it firmly established that a series of deaths are supernatural, and you might almost stab a man in broad daylight, and it would still be put down to the curse, so strongly is the instinct of the supernatural implanted in the human race. I suspected from the first that a man was taking advantage of that instinct. The idea came to him, I imagine, with the death of Sir John Willard. A fury of superstition arose at once.."
♥ The charm of Egypt had laid hold of me. Not so Poirot. Dressed precisely the same as in London, he carried a small clothes brush in his pocket and waged an unceasing war on the dust which accumulated on his dark apparel.
"And my boots," he wailed. "Regard them, Hastings. My boots, of the neat patent leather, usually so smart and shining. See, the sand is inside them, which is painful, and outside them, which outrages the eyesight. Also the heat, it causes my moustaches to become limp—but limp!"
"Look at the Sphinx," I urged. "Even I can feel the mystery and the charm it exhales."
Poirot looked at it discontentedly.
"It had not the air happy," he declared. "How could it, half-buried in sand in that untidy fashion. Ah, this cursed sand!"
"Come, now, there's a lot of sand in Belgium," I reminded him, mindful of a holiday spent at Knocke-sur-mer in the midst of "Les dunes impeccables" as the guidebook had phrased it.
"Not in Brussels," declared Poirot. He gazed at the Pyramids thoughtfully. "It is true that they, at least, are of a shape solid and geometrical, but their surface is of an unevenness most unpleasing. And the palm trees I like them not. Not even do they plant them in rows!"
♥ I pass over the spectacle of Poirot on a camel. He started by groans and lamentations and ended by shrieks, gesticulations and invocations to the Virgin Mary and every Saint in the calendar. In the end, he descended ignominiously and finished the journey on a diminutive donkey. I must admit that a trotting camel is no joke for the amateur. I was stiff for several days.
♥ "So you do not believe it, monsieur le docteur?"
"No, sir, I do not," declared the doctor empathically. "I am a scientific man, and I believe only what science teaches."
"Was there no science then in Ancient Egypt?" asked Poirot softly. He did not wait for a reply, and indeed Dr. Ames seemed rather at a loss for the moment.
♥ I stood at the door of the tent some time after undressing, looking out over the desert.
"A wonderful place," I said aloud, "and a wonderful work. I can feel the fascination. This desert life, this probing into the heart of a vanished civilization. Surely, Poirot, you, too, must feel the charm?"
♥ "And Mr. Schneider?"
"We cannot be sure. He knew young Bleibner too, remember, and may have suspected something, por, again, the doctor may have thought that a further death motiveless and purposeless would strengthen the coils of superstition. Furthermore, I will tell you an interesting psychological fact, Hastings. A murderer has always a strong desire to repeat his successful crime, the performance of it grows upon him. Hence my fears for young Willard. The figure of Anubis you saw tonight was Hassan dressed up by my orders. I wanted to see if I could straighten the doctor. But it would take more than the supernatural to frighten him. I could see that he was not entirely taken in by my pretenses of belief in the occult. The little comedy I played for him did not deceived him. I suspected that he would endeavour to make me the next victim. Ah, but in spite of la mer maudite, the heat abominable, and the annoyances of the sand, the little grey cells still functioned!"
♥ The case was hushed up as far as possible, and, to this day, people talk of the remarkable series of deaths in connection with the Tomb of Men-her-Ra as a triumphal proof of the vengeance of a bygone king upon the desecrators of his tomb—a belief which, as Poirot pointed out to me, is contrary to all Egyptian belief and thought.
~~The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb.
♥ "Thank you, I accept most gratefully. You have the good heart to think of an old man. And the good heart, it is in the end worth all the little grey cells. Yes, yes, I who speak to you am in danger of forgetting that sometimes."
♥ "..I declare I really must run up and get it!"
"Oh, madame," protested Poirot, "you are too amiable. Pray do not derange yourself!"
♥ "..They are arrested."
"Who are arrested?"
"The chambermaid and the valet, parbleu! You did not suspect? Not with my parting hint about the French chalk?"
"You said cabinetmakers used it."
"Certainly they do—to make drawers slide easily. Somebody wanted the drawer to slide in and out without any noise. Who could that be? Obviously, only the chambermaid. The plan was so ingenious that it did not at once leap to the eye—not even to the eye of Hercule Poirot.
"Listen, this was how it was done. The valet was in the empty room next door, waiting. The French maid leaves the room. Quick as a flash the chambermaid whips open the drawer, takes out the jewel case and, slipping back the bolt, passes it through the door. The valet opens it at his leisure with the duplicate key with which he has provided himself, extracts the necklace, and waits his time. Célestine leaves the room again, and—pst!—in a flash the case is passed back again and replaced in the drawer.
"Madame arrives the theft is discovered. The chambermaid demands to be searched, with a good deal of righteous indignation, and leaves the room without a stain on her character. The imitation necklace with which they have provided themselves has been concealed in the French girl's bed that morning by the chambermaid—a master stroke, ça!"
"But what did you go to London for?"
"You remember the card?"
"Certainly. It puzzled me—and puzzles me still. I thought—"
I hesitated delicately, glancing at Mr. Opalsen.
Poirot laughed heartily.
"Une blague! For the benefit of the valet. The card was one with a specially prepared surface—for fingerprints. I went straight to Scotland Yard, asked for our old friend Inspector Japp, and laid the facts before him. As I had suspected, the fingerprints proved to be those of two well-known jewel thieves who have been "wanted" for some time. Japp came down with me, the thieves were arrested, and the necklace was discovered in the valet's possession. A clever pair, but they failed in method. Have I not told you, Hastings, at least thirty-six times, that without method—"
"At least thirty-six thousand times!" I interrupted. "But where did their "method" break down?"
"Mon ami, it is a good plan to take a place as chambermaid or valet—but you must not shirk your work. They left an empty room undusted; and therefore, when the man put down the jewel case on the little table near the communicating door, it left a square mark—"
"I remember," I cried.
"Before, I was undecided. Then—I knew!"
~~The Jewel at the Grand Metropolitan.
♥ "I was asking you what you thought of this attempt to assassinate MacAdam?"
"Enfantillage!" replied Poirot promptly. "One can hardly take it seriously. To fire with the rifle—never does it succeed. It is a device of the past."
♥ "..Monsieur Poirot, the Prime Minister has disappeared."
"He has been kidnapped!"
"Impossible!" I cried, stupefied.
Poirot threw a withering glance at me, which I knew enjoined me to keep my mouth shut.
♥ "Why, as you said, kidnap him, when a knock on the head would do it as well?" I mused.
"Pardon me, mon ami, but I did not quite say that. It is undoubtedly far more their affair to kidnap him."
"Because uncertainty creates panic. That is one reason. Were the Prime Minister dead, it would be a terrible calamity, but the situation would have to be faced. But now you have paralysis. Will the Prime Minister reappear, or will he not? Is he dead or alive? Nobody knows, and until they know nothing definite can be done. And, as I tell you, uncertainty breeds panic, which is what les Boches are playing for. Then, again, if the kidnappers are holding him secretly somewhere, they have the advantage of being able to make terms with both sides. The German Government is not a liberal paymaster, as a rule, but no doubt they can be made to disgorge substantial remittances in such a case as this. Thirdly, they run no risk of the hangman's rope. Oh, decidedly, kidnapping is their affair."
♥ "..Now for the Daniels. There is not much against him, except the fact that nothing is known of his antecedents, and that he speaks too many languages for a good Englishman! (Pardon me, mon ami, but, as linguists, you are deplorable!) Now for him, we have the fact that he was found gagged, bound, and chloroformed—which does not look as though he had anything to do with the matter."
♥ On arriving at Dover Poirot's behaviour moved me to intense amusement. The little man, as he went on board the boat, clutched desperately sat my arm. The wind was blowing lustily."
"Mon Dieu!" he murmured. "This is terrible!"
"Have courage, Poirot," I cried. "You will succeed. You will find him. I am sure of it."
"Ah, mon ami, you mistake my emotion. It is this villainous sea that troubles me! The mal de mer—it is horrible suffering!"
"Oh!" I said, rather taken aback.
The first throb of the engines was felt, and Poirot groaned and closed his eyes.
"Major Norman has a map of Northern France if you would like to study it?"
Poirot shook his head impatiently.
"But no, but no! Leave me, my friend. See you, to think the stomach and the brain must be in harmony. Laverguier as a method most excellent for averting the mal de mer. You breathe in—and out—slowly, so—turning the head from left to right and counting six between each breath."
I left him to his gymnastic endeavours, and went on deck.
♥ "There is a military car here waiting for you, sir."
"Thank you, monsieur. But, for the moment, I do not propose to leave Boulogne."
"No, we will enter this hotel here, by the quay."
He suited the action to the word, demanded and was accorded a private room. We three followed him, puzzled and uncomprehending.
He shot a quick glance at us. "It is not so that the good detective should act, eh? I perceive your thought. He must be full of energy. He must rush to and fro. He should prostrate himself on the dusty road and seek the marks of tyres through a little glass. He must gather yup the cigarette end, the fallen match? That is your idea, is it not?
His eyes challenged us. "But I—Hercule Poirot—tell you that it is not so! The true clues are within—here!" He tapped his forehead. "See you, I need not have left London. It would have been sufficient for me to sit quietly in my rooms there. All that matters is the litte grey cells within. Secretly and silently they do their part, until suddenly I call for a map, and I lay my finger on a spot—so—and I say: the Prime Minister is there! And it is so! With method and logic one can accomplish anything! This frantic rushing to France was a mistake—it is playing a child's game of hide-and-seek. But now, though it may be too late, I will set to work the right way, from within. Silence, my friends, I beg you."
~~The Kidnapped Prime Minister.
♥ "Be exact, my friend. What do you mean by "disappear"? To which class of disappearance are you referring?"
"Are disappearances classified and labelled, then?" I laughed.
"But certainly they are! They fall into three categories: First, and most common, the voluntary disappearance. Second, the much abused "loss of memory" case—rare, but occasionally genuine. Third, murder, and a more or less successful disposal of the body."
♥ "..It is true that I approach such problems with an exact science, a mathematical precision, which seems, alas, only too rare in the new generation of detectives!"
♥ "..But there was no one likely to make away with him—and, if they had, where is the body?"
"Exactly. As Hastings says, bodies have a habit of coming to light with fatal persistency."
♥ "Well, Monsieur Poirot, what have you got to say to it all? Clear as daylight, eh?"
"On the contrary, most obscure."
The Scotland yard man looked pleased.
"Which gives me great hopes of solving it," finished Poirot placidly.
"I find it a good sign when a case is obscure. If a thing is clear as daylight—en bien, mistrust it! Someone has made it so."
Japp shook his head almost pityingly. "Well, each to their fancy. But it's not a bad thing to see your way clear ahead."
"I do not see," murmured Poirot. "I shut my eyes—and I think."
♥ Poirot looked at me pityingly, shaking his head very gently. "Mon pauvre ami! But it is that you have not the gift! The important detail, you appreciate him never! Also, your reasoning is false."
♥ Poirot stopped, and stretched out his hand for another boiled egg. He frowned. "Is it really insupportable," he murmured, "that every hen lays an egg of a different size! What symmetry can there be on the breakfast table? At least they should sort them in dozens at the shop!"
~~The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim.
♥ Poirot looked at him and shook his head.
"Streange," he murmured. "We all have the little grey cells. And so few of us know how ot use them."
♥ Poirot was right! He always is, confound him!
~~The Adventures of the Italian Nobleman.
♥ "If his niece sees through his little ruse, she will have justified her choice of life and elaborate education and be thoroughly welcome to his money."
"She didn't see through it, did she?" I said slowly. "It seems rather unfair. The old man really won."
"But no, Hastings. It is your wits that go astray. Miss Marsh proved the astuteness of her wits and the value of the higher education for women by at once putting the matter in my hands. Always employ the expert. She has amply proved her right to the money."
~~The Case of the Missing Will.
♥ We had had no interesting cases of late, nothing on which any little friend could exercise his keen wits and remarkable powers of deduction. This morning he flung down the newspaper with an impatient "Tchah!"—a favourite exclamation of his which sounded exactly like a cat sneezing.
"They fear me, Hastings; the criminals of England they fear me! When the cat is there, the little mice, they come no more to the cheese!"
♥ "..I can hardly believe that you can help me, but I have heard such wonderful things of you that I come literally as the last hope to beg you to do the impossible."
"The impossible, it pleases me always," said Poirot.
♥ "You seem to be taking this lying down, Poirot."
"You have an excellent heart, my friend—but your grey cells are in a deplorable condition. I have no with ti impress Mr. Lavington with my capabilities. The more pusillanimous he thinks me, the better."
"It is curious," murmured Poirot reminiscently, "that I should have uttered a wish to work against the law just because Lady Millicent arrived!"
"You are going to burgle his house while he ids away?" I gasped.
"Sometimes, Hastings, your mental processes are amazingly quick."
♥ "These shoes were wrong," said Poirot dreamily, while I was still too stupefied to speak. "I have made my little observations of your English nation, and a lady, a born lady, is always particular about her shoes. She may have shabby clothes, but she will be well shod. Now, this Lady Millicent had smart, expensive clothes, and cheap shoes. It was not likely that either you or I should have seen the real Lady Millicent; she has been very little in London, and this girl had a certain superficial resemblance which would pass well enough. As I say, the shoes first awakened my suspicions, and then her story—and her veil—were a little melodramatic, eh? The Chinese box with a big compromising letter in the top must have been known to all the gang, but the log of wood was the late Mr. Lavington's idea. Eh, par example, Hastings, I hope you will not again wound my feeling as you did yesterday by saying that I am unknown to the criminal classes. Ma foi, they even employ me when they themselves fail!"
~~The Veiled Lady.
♥ I laid down my bank book with a sigh.
"It is a curious thing," I observed, " but my overdraft never seems to grow any less."
"And it perturbs yo/u not? Me, if I had an overdraft, never should I close my eyes all night," declared Poirot.
"You deal in comfortable balances, I suppose!" I retorted.
♥ "'But you do nothing but sit and think? Can't we do something?'
"He was of an impatient temperament, you comprehend.
"'Monsieur,' I said with dignity, 'It is not for Hercule Poirot to turn up and down the evil-smelling streets of Limehouse like a little dog of no breeding. Be calm. My agents are at work.'"
♥ "And then, figure to yourself, Hastings, an idea of the most unreasonable seized this Mr. Pearson! Nothing would suit him but that we should go ourselves to this eating house and make investigations. I argued and prayed, but he would not listen. He talked of disguising himself—he even suggested that I—I should—I hesitate to say it—should shave off my moustache! Yes, rien que ça! I pointed out to him that that was an idea ridiculous and absurd. One destroys not a thing of beauty wantonly. Besides, shall not a Belgian gentleman with a moustache desire to see life and smoke opium just as readily as one without a moustache?
"En bien," he gave in on that, but he still insisted on his project. He turned up that evening—Mon dieu, what a figure! He wore what he called the "pea jacket," his chin, it was dirty and unshaved; he had a scarf of the vilest that offended the nose. And figure to yourself, he was enjoying himself! Truly, the English are mad! He made some changes in my own appearance. I permitted it. Can one argue with a maniac? We started out—after all, could I let him go alone, a child dressed up to act the charades?"
.."By that, of course, he plays right into Pearson's hands. But is Pearson content? No—my manner disquiets him, and he determines to complete the case against Lester. So he arranges an elaborate masquerade. Me, I am to be gulled completely. Did I not say just now that he was as a child acting the charades? En bien, I play my part. He goes home rejoicing. But in the morning, Inspector Miller arrives on his doorstep. The papers are found on him; the game is up. Bitterly he regrets permitting himself to play the farce with Hercule Poirot!
~~The Lost Mine.
♥ It was a wild night. Outside, the wind howled malevolently, and the rain beat against the windows in great gusts.
Poirot and I sat facing the hearth, our legs stretched out to the cheerful blaze. Between us was a small table. On my side of it stood some carefully brewed hot toddy; on Poirot's was a cup of thick, rich chocolate which I would not have drunk for a hundred pounds! Poirot sipped the thick brown mess in the pink china cup, and sighed with contentment.
"Quelle belle vie!" he murmured.
"Yes, it's a good old world," I agreed. "Here am I with a job, and a good job too! And here are you, famous—"
"Oh, mon ami!" protested Poirot.
"But you are. And rightly so! When I think back on your long line of successes, I am positively amazed. I don't believe you know what failure is!"
"He would be a droll kind of original who could say that?"
"No, but seriously, have you ever failed?"
"Innumerable times, my friend. What would you? La bonne chance, it cannot always be on your side. I have been called in too late. Very often another, working towards the same goal, has arrived there first. Twice have I been stricken down with illness just as I was on the point of success. One must take the downs with the ups, my friend."
"I didn't quite mean that," I said. "I meant, had you ever been completely down and out over a case trough your own fault?"
"Ah, I comprehend! You ask if I have ever made the complete prize ass of myself, as you say over here? Once, my friend—" A slow, reflective smile hovered over his face. "Yes, once I made a fool of myself."
♥ "Mademoiselle," I said, "it is sometimes difficult for a dog to find a scent but once he has found it, nothing on earth will make him leave it! That is if he is a good dog! And I, mademoiselle, I, Hercule Poirot, am a very good dog."
♥ "..Altogether it was a miserable affair that I have recounted to you there! Only to you have I told the story. You comprehend, I do not figure well in it! An old lady commits a crime in such a simple and clever fashion that I, Hercule Poirot, am completely deceived. Sapristi! It does not bear thinking of! Forget it. Or no—remember it, and if you think at any time that I am growing conceited—it is not likely, but it might arise."
I concealed a smile.
"En bien, my friend, you shall say to me, 'Chocolate box.' Is it agreed?"
"It's a bargain!"
"After all," said Poirot reflectively, "it was an experience! I, who have undoubtedly the finest brain in Europe at present, can afford to be magnanimous!"
"Chocolate box," I murmured.
"Pardon, mon ami?"
I looked at Poirot's innocent face, as he bent forward inquiringly, and my heart smote me. I had suffered often at his hands, but I, too, though not possessing the finest brain in Europe, could afford to be magnanimous!
"Nothing," I lied, and lit another pipe, smiling to myself."
~~The Chocolate Box.