An Odd1's Reviews > Cards on the Table

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
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Jul 06, 12

Read from June 22 to July 06, 2012

Mephistophelian (Mephostilian sic) menacing Mr Shaitana invites four murderers and four detectives for gourmet dinner and bridge, but is stabbed with his own stiletto knick-knack during someone's dummy hand. Why assume detectives cannot murder too? I miss the helpful cast list in many of this Collection., but descriptions are early p6-9. Dr Roberts 30s is brisk, cheerful, twinkling eyed, embonpoint (plump), confident, middle-aged. Mrs Lorrimer 60s is well-dressed, has lovely cut features, clear incisive voice, and an air of perfect plan-ahead deliberation. Major Despard (40-50s?) is tall, lean, handsome despite slight temple scar, evidence of dangerous life. Anne Meredith 20s is pretty, has brown curls, large gray eyes and slow shy voice.

The sleuths include mighty-moustached Belgian Hercule Poirot. Scotland Yard Superintendent Battle, big, square, wooden-faced, smarts hidden under stolid manner, takes on the official role. Untidy feminist Mrs Ariadne Oliver writes popular mysteries, handles chatty inquiries, and believes in womanly intuition. (Grey hair is middle age?) Deeply tanned handsome Colonel Race 50 spies for Secret Service in far corners of the Empire, and contributes his sources' research. Inquisitions by Battle amuse, that worm truths from close-mouthed witnesses p59, or confound by Poirot concluding each recitation of surroundings and card hands with "I am sure I am right", "nodded his head slowly" p59,75, 151. The drama queen version of Despard's act is cleverly written so we are not left out, disbelieve her as well as Poirot who, after "drew a long breath of fresh air" p139.

Starts with paper slips "reproductions of bridge scores which help solve the mystery", after crisp, too simple, chapter listings - V Second Murderer?, XIII Second Visitor, XXVI The Truth. Could be The Lie, The Misperception, The Coverup. I followed the slips and got the real villain. Beware the confession. This may be the most misdirecting Christie yet. In all a cleverly convoluted plot, keeps us following every twist.

Cooperation uncovers victims of every suspect, therefore motives. Does Christie speak, with a touch of humor, for herself through Oliver? "If the thing's getting a little dull, some more blood cheers it up" p51, and her bankbook balance motivates hard work p111. She does through Roberts "You've got to think everybody's a liar" p56.

When Anne's gallant boyish p85 Rhoda Dawes challenges her house-mate on her falsified resumé, the wind is up, a radio squawking "Why Do You Tell Me Lies, Baby?" p96 is supererogatory. When Battle crosses off both Roberts and the girl p157, we know more, cannot agree. "Tortuous" p10 is Poirot's précis of Shaitana, and the plot revelations and deductions.

(view spoiler)

Typo: p89 Mayor Despard for Major
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