The Mystery Of The Spanish Chest by Agatha Christie, 1939
The magic trick:
Setting up a plot that is like a logic puzzle as much as it is a story
I love Poirot mysteries but really am not familiar with the short stories at all. I know his work from the novels. I don’t think this is regarded as one of the classic stories, but I spent a highly enjoyable 45 minutes with it.
Agatha lays out the plot bare more like a logic puzzle than a story. Seriously, it’s like something out of Games magazine. This is not a complaint, mind you. Six people attend a party but only five are talking. Why? Well, that’s because one of them is dead and hidden in the trunk in the corner.
Not bad, right?
I was hooked.
And that’s quite a trick on Christie’s part.
He looked down again at the newspaper, conning over the names: Major Rich, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton, Commander McLaren, Mr. and Mrs. Spence. Names, nothing but names to him; yet all possessed of human personalities, hating, loving, fearing. A drama, this, in which he, Hercule Poirot had no part. And he would have liked to have a part in it! Six people at an evening party, in a room with a big Spanish chest against the wall, six people, five of them talking, eating a buffet supper, putting records on the gramophone, dancing, and the sixth dead, in the Spanish chest. . . .
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