Tuesday, 11 December 2007

'Lord Edgware dies' by Agatha Christie

Penned by the queen of crimes Agatha Christie, ‘Lord Edgware Dies’ poses as an excellent example of her skill to keep the reader guessing till the very end. Most of Agatha Christie fans will agree with me that this is one among her masterpieces. This superb detective novel features Hercule Poirot, the brilliant Belgian detective and his much loved sidekick Captain Hastings. The story unfolds thus:

Jane Wilkinson, the famous actress married to Lord Edgware, had started acting again. Rumour was that she had left her husband soon after their marriage. Poirot and Hastings first saw the husky voiced, self-centred Jane Wilkinson, while enjoying a show in which several well-known were imitated by an American girl named Carlotta Adams. At the particular moment that Hastings spotted Jane among the audience, Carlotta was imitating Jane herself. Hastings had thought that the people whom Carlotta imitated so cleverly would have felt extremely annoyed if they ever saw her perform. Quite on the contrary, Jane was thoroughly enjoying Carlotta’s imitation. Soon after the theatre, Poirot and Hastings had the chance to get acquainted with Jane Wilkinson. During their conversation she made a very astonishing statement- that she wanted to get rid of her husband somehow or the other. She desperately wanted to get divorce since he wanted to marry someone else. As he was not willing to do so, she was thinking whether she should go and bump him off! She had blurted out all these quite openly in the presence of Bryan Martin- an actor, Carlotta Adams and her escort (who had come on Jane’s special invitation) and Mr & Mrs Widburn (friends of Jane).

A few days later, on Jane’s request, Poirot and Hastings visited Lord Edgware and asked him whether he was ready to give divorce to his wife. His answer was yes which surprised them since Jane had told them that he was quite averse to giving her divorce. Lord Edgware told them that he had even sent a letter giving his consent to the divorce. When Poirot questioned Jane about this, she told him that she never received such a letter!

The next day Poirot and Hastings heard the shocking news- that Lord Edgware was stabbed to death in his library! The first suspect was of course Jane Wilkinson. Lord Edgware’s butler and his secretary swore that Jane had visited the house in the evening of the murder. But Jane presented a strong alibi- at the time of the murder she was in a party which was attended by twelve other well-known people. While Poirot and the police are equally baffled by the case, there is a second death. Carlotta Adams, the American actress is found dead in her house. She had died in her sleep. There was no evidence of murder. But Poirot was not convinced. Two things that were in Carlotta's handbag disturbed him- a small gold box with an inscription and a pair of pince-nez. The pince-nez were not hers.

The murderer was clever. So Poirot needed to be cleverer. Had Carlotta killed Lord Edgware posing as Lady Edgware and then later killed herself? Or was there a third person? Will Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells betray him this time? Will Carlotta speak to him from the grave and show him the murderer? Read the book to find out!
I would highly recommend this book as I believe this is one of Agatha Christie’s masterpieces. If you have never read any of her books, I would ask you to start with this. I am sure you will be hooked. Happy reading!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just read this book and agree this is a brilliant work of detective fiction and ranks among Christie's best.

Manoj R
Boston, MA
Dec 31, 2007

EK said...

Thank you for your comment Manoj! Wish you a happy new year..

Ms Cris said...

Read it long back too, but remember this one! Who wouldnt?? :-)