About the Author
Date of Birth:September 15, 1890
Date of Death:January 12, 1976
Place of Birth:Torquay, Devon, England
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A Fellow Traveller
I believe that a well-known anecdote exists to the effect that a young writer, determined to make the commencement of his story forcible and original enough to catch and rivet the attention of the most blasé of editors, penned the following sentence:
" 'Hell!' said the Duchess."
Strangely enough, this tale of mine opens in much the same fashion. Only the lady who gave utterance to the exclamation was not a Duchess!
It was a day in early June. I had been transacting some business in Paris and was returning by the morning service to London where I was still sharing rooms with my old friend, the Belgian ex-detective, Hercule Poirot.
The Calais express was singularly empty — in fact, my own compartment held only one other traveller. I had made a somewhat hurried departure from the hotel and was busy assuring myself that I had duly collected all my traps when the train started. Up till then I had hardly noticed my companion, but I was now violently recalled to the fact of her existence. Jumping up from her seat, she let down the window and stuck her head out, with-drawing it a moment later with the brief and forcible ejaculation "Hell!"
Now I am old-fashioned. A woman, I consider, should be womanly. I have no patience with the modern neurotic girl who jazzes from morning to night, smokes like a chimney, and uses language which would make a Billingsgate fishwoman blush!
I looked up now, frowning slightly, into a pretty, impudent face, surmounted by a rakish little red hat. A thick cluster of black curls hid each ear. I judged that she was little more than seventeen, but her face was covered with powder, and her lips were quite impossibly scarlet.
Nothing abashed, she returned my glance, and executed an expressive grimace.
"Dear me, we've shocked the kind gentleman!" she observed to an imaginary audience. "I apologize for my language! Most unladylike, and all that, but Oh, Lord, there's reason enough for it! Do you know I've lost my only sister?"
"Really?" I said politely. "How unfortunate."
"He disapproves!" remarked the lady. "He disapproves utterly — of me, and my sister — which last is unfair, because he hasn't seen her!"
I opened my mouth, but she forestalled me.
"Say no more! Nobody loves me! I shall go into the garden and eat worms! Boohoo! I am crushed!"
She buried herself behind a large comic French paper. In a minute or two I saw her eyes stealthily peeping at me over the top. In spite of myself I could not help smiling, and in a minute she had tossed the paper aside, and had burst into a merry peal of laughter.
"I knew you weren't such a mutt as you looked," she cried.
Her laughter was so infectious that I could not help joining in, though I hardly cared for the word "mutt." The girl was certainly all that I most disliked, but that was no reason why I should make myself ridiculous by my attitude. I prepared to unbend. After all, she was decidedly pretty. ...
"There! Now we're friends!" declared the minx. "Say you're sorry about my sister —"
"I am desolated!"
"That's a good boy!"
"Let me finish. I was going to add that, although I am desolated, I can manage to put up with her absence very well." I made a little bow.
But this most unaccountable of damsels frowned and shook her head.
"Cut it out. I prefer the 'dignified disapproval' stunt. Oh, your face! 'Not one of us,' it said. And you were right there — though, mind you, it's pretty hard to tell nowadays. It's not every one who can distinguish between a demi and a duchess. There now, I believe I've shocked you again! You've been dug out of the backwoods, you have. Not that I mind that. We could do with a few more of your sort. I just hate a fellow who gets fresh. It makes me mad."
She shook her head vigorously.
"What are you like when you're mad?" I inquired with a smile.
"A regular little devil! Don't care what I say, or what I do, either! I nearly did a chap in once. Yes, really. He'd have deserved it too. Italian blood I've got. I shall get into trouble one of these days."
"Well," I begged, "don't get mad with me."
"I shan't. I like you — did the first moment I set eyes on you. But you looked so disapproving that I never thought we should make friends."
"Well, we have. Tell me something about yourself."
"I'm an actress. No — not the kind you're thinking of, lunching at the Savoy covered with jewellery, and with their photograph in every paper saying how much they love Madame So and So's face cream. I've been on the boards since I was a kid of six — tumbling."
"I beg your pardon," I said puzzled.
"Haven't you seen child acrobats?"
"Oh, I understand."
"I'm American born, but I've spent most of my life in England. We got a new show now —"
"My sister and I. Sort of song and dance, and a bit of patter, and a dash of the old business thrown in. It's quite a new idea, and it hits them every time. There's to be money in it —"
My new acquaintance leaned forward, and discoursed volubly, a great many of her terms being quite unintelligible to me. Yet I found myself evincing an increasing interest in her. She seemed such a curious mixture of child and woman. Though perfectly worldly-wise, and able, as she expressed it, to take care of herself, there was yet something curiously ingenuous in her single-minded attitude towards life, and her whole-hearted determination to "make good." This glimpse of a world unknown to me was not without its charm, and I enjoyed seeing her vivid little face light up as she talked.
We passed through Amiens. The name awakened many memories. My companion seemed to have an intuitive knowledge of what was in my mind.
"Thinking of the War?"
"You were through it, I suppose?"
"Pretty well. I was wounded once, and after the Somme they invalided me out altogether. I had a half fledged Army job for a bit. I'm a sort of private secretary now to an M. P."
"My! That's brainy!"
"No, it isn't. There's really awfully little to do. Usually a couple of hours every day sees me through. It's dull work too. In fact, I don't know what I should do if I hadn't got something to fall back upon."
"Don't say you collect bugs!"
"No. I share rooms with a very interesting man. He's a Belgian — an ex-detective. He's set up as a private detective in London, and he's doing extraordinarily well. He's really a very marvellous little man. Time and again he has proved to be right where the official police have failed."
My companion listened with widening eyes.
"Isn't that interesting, now? I just adore crime. I go to all the mysteries on the movies. And when there's a murder on I just devour the papers."
"Do you remember the Styles Case?" I asked.
"Let me see, was that the old lady who was poisoned? Somewhere down in Essex?"
"That was Poirot's first big case. Undoubtedly, but for him, the murderer would have escaped scot-free. It was a most wonderful bit of detective work."
Warming to my subject, I ran over the heads of the affair, working up to the triumphant and unexpected dénouement. The girl listened spellbound. In fact, we were so absorbed that the train drew into Calais station before we realized it.
"My goodness gracious me!" cried my companion. "Where's my powder-puff?"
She proceeded to bedaub her face liberally, and then applied a stick of lip salve to her lips, observing the effect in a small pocket glass, and betraying not the faintest sign of self-consciousness.
"I say," I hesitated. "I dare say it's cheek on my part, buy why do all that sort of thing?"
The girl paused in her operations, and stared at me with undisguised surprise.
"It isn't as though you weren't so pretty that you can afford to do without it," I said stammeringly.
"My dear boy! I've got to do it. All the girls do. Think I want to look like a little frump up from the country?" She took one last look in the mirror, smiled approval, and put it and her vanity-box away in her bag. "That's better. Keeping up appearances is a bit of a fag, I grant, but if a girl respects herself it's up to her not to let herself get slack."
To this essentially moral sentiment, I had no reply. A point of view makes a great difference.
I secured a couple of porters, and we alighted on the platform. My companion held out her hand.
"Good-bye, and I'll mind my language better in future."
"Oh, but surely you'll let me look after you on the boat?"
"Mayn't be on the boat. I've got to see whether that sister of mine got aboard after all anywhere. But thanks all the same."
"Oh, but we're going to meet again, surely? I —" I hesitated. "I want to meet your sister."
We both laughed.
"That's real nice of you. I'll tell her what you say. But I don't fancy we'll meet again. You've been very good to me on the journey, especially after I cheeked you as I did. But what your face expressed first thing is quite true. I'm not your kind. And that brings trouble — I know that well enough. ..."
Her face changed. For the moment all the lighthearted gaiety died out of it. It looked angry — revengeful. ...
"So good-bye," she finished, in a lighter tone.
"Aren't you even going to tell me your name?" I cried, as she turned away.
She looked over her shoulder. A dimple appeared in each cheek. She was like a lovely picture by Greuze.
"Cinderella," she said, and laughed.
But little did I think when and how I should see Cinderella again.CHAPTER 2
An Appeal for Help
It was five minutes past nine when I entered our joint sitting-room for breakfast on the following morning. My friend Poirot, exact to the minute as usual, was just tapping the shell of his second egg.
He beamed upon me as I entered.
"You have slept well, yes? You have recovered from the crossing so terrible? It is a marvel, almost you are exact this morning. Pardon, but your tie is not symmetrical. Permit that I rearrange him."
Elsewhere, I have described Hercule Poirot. An extraordinary little man! Height, five feet four inches, egg-shaped head carried a little to one side, eyes that shone green when he was excited, stiff military moustache, air of dignity immense! He was neat and dandified in appearance. For neatness of any kind, he had an absolute passion. To see an ornament set crooked, or a speck of dust, or a slight disarray in one's attire, was torture to the little man until he could ease his feelings by remedying the matter. "Order" and "Method" were his gods. He had a certain disdain for tangible evidence, such as footprints and cigarette ash, and would maintain that, taken by themselves, they would never enable a detective to solve a problem. Then he would tap his egg-shaped head with absurd complacency, and remark with great satisfaction: "The true work, it is done from within. The little grey cells — remember always the little grey cells, mon ami!"
I slipped into my seat, and remarked idly, in answer to Poirot's greeting, that an hour's sea passage from Calais to Dover could hardly be dignified by the epithet "terrible."
Poirot waved his egg-spoon in vigorous refutation of my remark.
"Du tout! If for an hour one experiences sensations and emotions of the most terrible, one has lived many hours! Does not one of your English poets say that time is counted, not by hours, but by heart-beats?"
"I fancy Browning was referring to something more romantic than sea sickness, though."
"Because he was an Englishman, an Islander to whom la Manche was nothing. Oh, you English! With nous autres it is different. Figure to yourself that a lady of my acquaintance at the beginning of the war fled to Ostend. There she had a terrible crisis of the nerves. Impossible to escape further except by crossing the sea! And she had a horror — mais une horreur! — of the sea! What was she to do? Daily les Boches were drawing nearer. Imagine to yourself the terrible situation!"
"What did she do?" I inquired curiously.
"Fortunately her husband was homme pratique. He was also very calm, the crises of the nerves, they affected him not. Il l'a emportée simplement! Naturally when she reached England she was prostrate, but she still breathed."
Poirot shook his head seriously. I composed my face as best I could.
Suddenly he stiffened and pointed a dramatic finger at the toast rack.
"Ah, par exemple, c'est trop fort!" he cried.
"What is it?"
"This piece of toast. You remark him not?" He whipped the offender out of the rack, and held it up for me to examine.
"Is it square? No. Is it a triangle? Again no. Is it even round? No. Is it of any shape remotely pleasing to the eye? What symmetry have we here? None."
"It's cut from a cottage loaf," I explained soothingly.
Poirot threw me a withering glance.
"What an intelligence has my friend Hastings!" he exclaimed sarcastically. "Comprehend you not that I have forbidden such a loaf — a loaf haphazard and shapeless, that no baker should permit himself to bake!"
I endeavoured to distract his mind.
"Anything interesting come by the post?"
Poirot shook his head with a dissatisfied air.
"I have not yet examined my letters, but nothing of interest arrives nowadays. The great criminals, the criminals of method, they do not exist. The cases I have been employed upon lately were banal to the last degree. In verity I am reduced to recovering lost lap-dogs for fashionable ladies! The last problem that presented any interest was that intricate little affair of the Yardly diamond, and that was — how many months ago, my friend?"
He shook his head despondently, and I roared with laughter.
"Cheer up, Poirot, the luck will change. Open your letters. For all you know, there may be a great Case looming on the horizon."
Poirot smiled, and taking up the neat little letter opener with which he opened his correspondence he slit the tops of the several envelopes that lay by his plate.
"A bill. Another bill. It is that I grow extravagant in my old age. Aha! a note from Japp."
"Yes?" I pricked up my ears. The Scotland Yard Inspector had more than once introduced us to an interesting case.
"He merely thanks me (in his fashion) for a little point in the Aberystwyth Case on which I was able to set him right. I am delighted to have been of service to him."
"How does he thank you?" I asked curiously, for I knew my Japp.
"He is kind enough to say that I am a wonderful sport for my age, and that he was glad to have had the chance of letting me in on the case."
This was so typical of Japp, that I could not forbear a chuckle. Poirot continued to read his correspondence placidly.
"A suggestion that I should give a lecture to our local boy scouts. The Countess of Forfanock will be obliged if I will call and see her. Another lap- dog without doubt! And now for the last. Ah —"
I looked up, quick to notice the change of tone. Poirot was reading attentively. In a minute he tossed the sheet over to me.
"This is out of the ordinary, mon ami. Read for yourself."
The letter was written on a foreign type of paper, in a bold characteristic hand:
"Villa Geneviève Merlinville-sur-Mer France
"I am in need of the services of a detective and, for reasons which I will give you later, do not wish to call in the official police. I have heard of you from several quarters, and all reports go to show that you are not only a man of decided ability, but one who also knows how to be discreet. I do not wish to trust details to the post, but, on account of a secret I possess, I go in daily fear of my life. I am convinced that the danger is imminent, and therefore I beg that you will lose no time in crossing to France. I will send a car to meet you at Calais, if you will wire me when you are arriving. I shall be obliged if you will drop all cases you have on hand, and devote yourself solely to my interests. I am prepared to pay any compensation necessary. I shall probably need your services for a considerable period of time, as it may be necessary for you to go out to Santiago, where I spent several years of my life. I shall be content for you to name your own fee.
"Assuring you once more that the matter is urgent,
"Yours faithfully "P. T. RENAULD."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Murder on the Links"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Agatha Christie's 'Murder on the Links' is a 5 star Hair Raising Suspensful Thriller where Hercule Poiorot has a double and near triple murder case to solve. He comes to the Ville where he has been asked to come to solve a case. When they arrived they were told that he was dead.
Hercule Poirot, a detective has recived a letter of desperation from a Mister P.T. Renauld. In the letter, Poirot finds that Mister Renauld is in 'daily fear for his life.' Poirot decides to drop the case he has been summond for earlier. He and his 'side kick' rush to France to Mr. Renauld's aid. But when they get thier, they find Monsieur Rneauld has been murdered on a gold course. His job now is to find the murderer and alert the police of his warabouts. An arrest is made by the police, not confirmed by Poirot, but do they have the right man? If they don't, more people are at risk to be murdered. This book is a hard bood to understand. It would be appropriate for grades 10 and up and would appeal to a reader who loves very indepth mysteries.
Poirot and Hastings are joined together again in a mysterious plot which finds the murdered victim already in his grave. In a battle wits with the local French police, has Poirot found his match? Will Hastings find love at last? The detecting duo travel to and fro across the English Channel in search of the truth. I enjoyed this novel for exposing the deepening relations between Poirot and Hastings, including a falling-out between the two great friends. The mystery is, of a matter of course, superbly crafted and leads you to believe you've got it until the very last chapter, when everything comes to a dramatic and surprising end.
Very Good. I could not put the book down until i finished it.
Originally published in 1923, I read an Agatha Christie Signature Edition published in 2001. ISBN 0-00-711928-3. 319 pages.Having recently transacted some business in Paris, Arthur Hastings is returning to London, to the rooms he is now sharing with Belgian ex-detective Hercule Poirot, by the morning Calais express. He shares a compartment with a young woman who introduces herself as Cinderella.On the following morning in London Poirot receives a letter from France, from someone who says he is desperate need of the services of a detective. The letter is written in a "bold characteristic hand", with a hastily scrawled line at the bottom, "For God's sake, come!" Poirot and Hastings set out straight away for Dover and then Calais. When they arrive at their destination they discover that the writer of the letter has already been murdered. His brutally stabbed body is discovered face down in a bunker on a nearby golf course, clad in its underwear and an extremely long overcoat.This is Agatha Christie's third novel, her second to feature Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings. Although this is only the second time we have seen Poirot in action, Hastings implies they have worked other cases together since THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES. In a reference to Inspector Japp from Scotland Yard in the opening pages, Hastings says that he had "more than once introduced us to an interesting case."The police have already been called to the murder scene by the time Poirot arrives and he is delighted to discover the police commissary is an old acquaintance whom he last saw in Ostend over a decade before. The commissary is able to introduce Poirot to the examining magistrate and the victim's doctor. After Poirot has inspected the scene and between them they have interviewed some of the household, a stranger turns up. He proves to be Monseiur Giraud from the Paris Surete, a much younger man, a "modern" detective, arrogant, self-assured, and only about thirty years old.From this point on the action becomes a competition between Poirot and Giraud to solve the case. Poirot and Giraud constantly refute each other's theories, and Hastings typically is ready to see Poirot as a quibbler, and indeed at one stage goes out of his way to deceive Poirot and thus lets him down. Giraud disparages Poirot's deductive methods, preferring to use more scientific evidence such as the new art of fingerprinting. Poirot makes no secret of the fact that he believes Giraud is not nearly observant enough.In addition Hastings loses his impartiality by falling head over heels in love with one of the suspects. It will be interesting to see if she appears in a future book.The plot is quite a complex one, and indeed I feel that the complexity actually became a little difficult for Christie to sustain. The reader is required to accept a considerable degree of coincidence, straining the credibility of the plot just a bit.There's quite a lot of description of Poirot and we have a really good idea of what he looks like. Hastings, through whose eyes we see the action of the novel, says "An extraordinary little man. Height, five feet four inches, egg-shaped head carried a little to one side, eyes that shone green when he was excited, stiff military moustache, air of dignity immense! He was neat and dandified in appearance." There is a scene however at the end of the novel which is a bit at odds with that description. Look out for it and see what you think."Dashing forward, he [Poirot] battered wildly on the front door. Then rushing to the tree in the flower-bed, he swarmed up it with the agility of a cat. I followed him, as with a bound he sprang in through the open window". Sedate, dapper, neat little Poirot climbs a tree? Never!Just as in the earlier two books, there are quite large sections of denouement, when Christie makes sure that the reader understands the complexity of the plot and the cleverness of her carefully woven webs. Almost 80 pages before the end Poirot begins his expo
November 1998 Hastings finds love sums up this book for me. Sadly I watched part one of the BBC version of this book, I say sadly because the movie version does not follow the story line of the book, which is like following two conversations at the same time. Anyway, Christie is an extremely talented mystery writer, just when the murder is solved, things happen. Things and people are never what they appear to be which is almost the only constant thing. Someday I may read all Christie¿s mysteries from beginning to end, won¿t that be a task?
Hercules Poirot and Hastings are off to France at the bequest of a South American millionaire who is in fear of his life. It takes some getting used to the English overstuffiness, but the storyline is okay. The ending actually had too many twists which got tedious after a while. I'll will probably still read more Christie novels, though.
Another great one.Difficult to read any Poirot now without seeing David Suchet in your mind. His work might be the closest-to-the-mark portrayal of any mystery series character.
I'm going through the Poirot mysteries in order, so this is only the second one I've read, but I prefer this one over The Mysterious Affair at Styles.I must admit, one of the characters I knew was going to come back, but not in the way I imagined it. Christie's talent for a mystery shines when Poirot reveals the truth and you can go back in your mind with the evidence and it seems to check out. Sometimes it may seem a little far-fetched, but if you read with your mind going, "ANYTHING can happen," it makes for a much more interesting read.I enjoyed this one a lot, especially with all the hidden identities here and there. Definitely one I'd recommend.
It is SO hard for me to read these books and not picture David Suchet as Poirot. While the man is perfect in the role, I hear his voice in my head while I'm reading. But...okay, moving right along...In this episode, we find the friendly little Belgian detective spending his time rescuing cats and he's fed up. Along comes a letter from one M. Renaud in France, asking for Poirot's help because his life is in danger. Off rush Poirot and his friend and erstwhile sidekick, Captain Hastings. But it's too late...when they arrive at Renaud's villa, Renaud is already dead. While Poirot has no official standing there, he is allowed to help the police, and they'll need it: there are a number of suspects from which to choose. With his usual energy, Poirot has to work fast to prevent the wrong person from going to the guillotine. This is installment #2 in the Poirot series, and it's easy to see that neither Poirot nor Hastings are in their fully developed selves yet. It's not one of her best but on the other hand, it's still early in the series. Originally written in 1923, the language is a bit stilted at times, and Poirot is a bit more long-winded than he will turn out to be later. A lot of this novel is based on coincidence, but you can sort of overlook it because it's interesting to see how Poirot uses zee little grey cells. However, a couple of plot twists will keep you guessing right up until the end so it's a good enough mystery and will keep readers turning pages. Recommended definitely for Christie (and Poirot) fans; readers of golden-age mysteries will enjoy this and readers of British mysteries in general will probably have fun with it. Overall...an average story from a great writer.
This was an exceptionally good Poirot mystery. There were a lot of complicated plot twists at the end, and just when I thought I had everything figured out there were more surprises. A couple of romances too!
What can I say, I love almost every Agatha Christie. True, not as well polished as some of her others but I did love reading the 'story' behind Hastings and his wife!Read on a kobo, loved it!
Ercule Poirot receives a letter begging him to travel to France to help in a mysterious case. Upon his arrival it turns out that the man who wrote the letter was murdered and it is up to Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings to solve the murder and a couple of other mysteries along the way. A couple of years ago I got my hands on a volume of five of Christie's Miss Marple mysteries along with a book of short stories and for some reason while I enjoyed them I didn't love them. It all seemed very formulaic with superficial characters and without much feeling. Now that I've been reading more of her books I can't help but think that the timing wasn't right when I picked up that volume. I even remember saying in earlier Christie reviews that to me her novels are good riddles but usually don't have much depth. I officially take it back. This was Christie's second published novel and already we have a theme that will repeat in a number of her later books - heredity and its effects on a person's character. Poirot is a big believer in heredity and something tells me that Dame Agatha was as well. It was interesting to see how such considerations played a part in the characters' actions. We also have the matter of social classes and marriage outside of one's class. It seems like an archaic and snobbish subject in this day and age but in Christie's time it was very much relevant and I must admit, marriage is difficult enough without partnering up with someone who doesn't even have the benefit of a similar background. Like Poirot said, 99 times out of 100 it doesn't make for a happy union. But do not despair, my democratic friends, luckily for us Christie favors love and happiness much more than numbers and odds, and that's all I'm going to say about that. As far as the characters go this set was a lot of fun. Hastings always deems himself such a great detective and speaks of Poirot almost pityingly when the Belgian genius makes conclusions that don't coincide with his. Fortunately he remains such a good sport when he realizes that all his ideas were wrong that one can't hold it against him, which I don't think Poirot ever does. The French police are a different matter entirely and it was very amusing to watch them battle it out over the many plot twists - as the officer in charge of the investigation lamented this was not at all a simple case and you do have to get the little grey cells working to keep track of it all. Mme Renauld was definitely my favorite female character. She was a remarkable woman indeed and only at the very end of the book do we see the full extent of it. The rest weren't very straightforward either. We have devotion, self-sacrifice, strength, deceit and calculation all present and as carefully as I watched for clues I couldn't always tell who was looking out for whose interests. Hope you have better luck, both here and with the identity of the killer - I was off the mark yet again and A.C. is currently leading 15-0. That's ok, I have 51 more chances.
Poirot is asked to come quickly to France. It is the postscript that really convinces the esteemed investigator to take on the case. He arrives to find the man who sent the note murdered. Although Giraud, the French detective, seems to be up on the latest in scientific investigation, it is Poirot's psychological studies of the persons involved which leads to the conclusion. This is one with all sorts of twists and turns in the plot. It will keep readers guessing up to the very end.
The book has a quite complicated plot, which is apparently based on a real case, and is very French in its feel. Poirot is completely at the heart of this book and you can feel his character and his 'little grey cells' developing. There is a slightly ludicrous, romantic subplot involving Captain Hastings, but this does not detract from the novel in the least and here I can really feel Christie growing into her craft.
This is the second in the Poirot series and just as delightful, if not more so, than the first. I enjoyed every minute of it!
Great writing, keeps you on your toes to the end.