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Three Act Tragedy

(Hercule Poirot #11)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  17,670 ratings  ·  1,032 reviews
At an apparently respectable dinner party, a vicar is the first to die...Thirteen guests arrived at dinner at the actor's house. It was to be a particularly unlucky evening for the mild-mannered Reverend Stephen Babbington, who choked on his cocktail, went into convulsions and died. But when his martini glass was sent for chemical analysis, there was no trace of poison -- ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Berkley (first published 1934)
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This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Clara Yes, and it would have been probably pretty easy to find evidence and pin it on him.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dimos Dicoudis More of a hiding a needle in a haystack solution. A random guy gets murdered, and the murder offers no known benefit to the killer. The next couple of…moreMore of a hiding a needle in a haystack solution. A random guy gets murdered, and the murder offers no known benefit to the killer. The next couple of murders have clear benefits for the killer, but he can use the first one to divert suspicion from himself. "Why would I want to kill him?"

Remember, a good question for many crimes is "cui bono" (to whom is it a benefit?). What happens when the crime seemingly benefits nobody? (less)

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3.83  · 
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 ·  17,670 ratings  ·  1,032 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Three Act Tragedy = Murder in three acts (Hercule Poirot #11), Agatha Christie (1891 – 1976)
Three Act Tragedy is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie, first published in 1934 under the title Murder in Three Acts and in the UK in January 1935 under Christie's original title. Sir Charles Cartwright hosts a dinner party at his home in Cornwall. His guests include: Hercule Poirot; Dr Bartholomew Strange; Lady Mary Lytton Gore, and her daughter Hermione; Captain Dacres and hi
Excellent, Poirot at his imperious best. More thoughts tomorrow.

Through Christmas and the New Year (2018/19) my family and I watched a lot of Agatha Christie, from David Suchet's Poirot, through Peter Ustinov to John Malkovich, plus also a documentary drama about Christie's disappearance for 11 days in 1926. Included in this Christmas Christie extravaganza was "Three act tragedy".

So to the book itself; although Poirot does not appear as much as he does in the TV version, he is still instrumental
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Three Act Tragedy is yet another interesting murder-mystery of the Poirot series. The story is written in three "acts" as if on a play, and true to its kind, there is a lively drama that unfolds through the chapters.

(view spoiler)
Laurel Young
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
samantha  (books-are-my-life20)
Keeps you guessing till the last page.
Simona Bartolotta
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-italian, crime, 1900
Simply delicious, but more Poirot would have been appreciated. Plus, now I can't get my mind off of the idea of Mr Quinn magically popping up to pair up with Poirot and his old friend Satterthwaite (who is in this book and to whom I owe this bookish dream of mine).
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2016
I guess it's a testament in and of itself that when it comes to Agatha Christie, I:
- devour a book in one sitting,
- remain thoroughly lost to the outside world in the interim, and
- never even read the synopsis - I wholeheartedly trust that whichever book I pick will be worthwhile.

But then, Agatha Christie was my childhood. Say what you will, but even when it comes to evil and muuuuuuuurder, we tend to trust our childhood. Nostalgia. Memories. Rose-tinted glasses.

And, in Agatha Christie's case -
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
This book was a bit frustrating for awhile. Hardly any Hercule Poirot was in it! Even so, I grew a bit bored and not just because of the absence of the detective. At first the story was all over the place before the middle act, which was distracting. The characters and scenes were interesting enough for a bit, but meh...I kept wanting to skim ahead after awhile. Much of it was thoughtful dialogue among secondary characters without any continuing ties to go on.

After page 128, seriously, Hercule
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, stars-4-0
"Illumination by:

Christie seems here to have had fun by using the theatre, which she loved, to shape the form and content of this novel. As the title announces, the story is broken into three acts - Suspicion, Certainty and Discovery. Actors take the limelight in the midst of the more usual characters, such as doctors, priests and aristocracy, that people Agatha's casts.

Poirot is actually absent for most of the narration, the investigative work done instead by Sir Charles Cartwrig
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Mr Satterthwaite, Sir Charles Cartwright, Egg Gore, and Hercules Poirot team up to solve a baffling murder. At Sir Charles' dinner party a seemingly harmless vicar dies. Everyone (including Poirot) dismisses it as a medical issue at the time. But when their friend Dr Bartholomew Strange dies in a similar fashion at a similar party, the story really begins. Who could possibly have murdered Strange? An even more impossible question was who could possibly have murdered the vicar?

I must say I loved
Nandakishore Varma
A unique book in the sense that Mr. Satterthwaite, usually associated with Mr. Quin, plays second fiddle to Poirot here.

I did not like the book as much as some of her others - except for a daring premise: (view spoiler) which left me totally dumbfounded.
Katie Lumsden
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable, as Agatha Christie always is.
Roman Clodia
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very clever plot as a harmless old vicar is poisoned at a cocktail party. Re-reading it allows us to see just how deftly Christie has planted all her clues and supporting evidence so that the final solution elicits an ' of course!' (rather than the 'eh, what?!!' I sometimes feel in modern mysteries). Poirot is rather on the side lines till the end, but he uncovers one of the most odd yet logical motives for murder ever - and his final line is hilarious!
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a Poirot mystery, the great detective is on the fringes of the action in this novel. Attending a house party given by actor Sir Charles Cartwright, he witnesses the seizure and death of the gentle local pastor, Stephen Babbington. There seems to be no reason to suspect foul play, but Sir Charles and his friends Mr Satterthwaite and Sir Bartholomew Strange think the death suspicious. Later, Sir Batholomew Strange, a Harley Street specialist, gives a dinner including many of the guests pr ...more
David Schaafsma
Poirot #11: Christie's and Poirot’s Class in Observation

“The trouble is, that nobody observes anything,” Mr. Crossfield said.

How do we observe? Christie, continuing her focus on theater-based mysteries, supposes (through Poirot) that actors, playwrights, theater-goers and detectives all can observe closely, though they will obviously typically notice different things. But who observes best, according to Poirot? You guessed it. A coolly rational egg-head shaped Belgian.

Story: A recently retired
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh… lets get this one over with. Three Act Tragedy is a mess. It stands right after The Big Four as the worst Christie novel I’ve read (to be fair though, it is nowhere near as bad as The Big Four… but then again, few books are). It is an utter mess from start to finish.

This is one of those award Poirot novels where Poirot himself is a side character in his own novel; pretty much reserved for letting everyone gather all the clues, step in at the last moment and say “no , no no, this is what re
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing

So, this is obviously my absolutely favorite Hercule Poirot novel, since I was such a genius that I solved the crime before the chapters got into double digits. I couldn't guess the motive, but I knew who did it, how said person did it, and other specifics of the crime fairly early on! Christie had me second-guessing myself about half way through, but I stuck with my own detecting skills and was richly rewarded at the end. figuratively of course.

You know, it's really not f
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Not my favorite Agatha Christie but as usual the characters were fascinating and the plot twisty enough to keep me glued to the book. It was lovely to meet Mr. Satterhwaite again, this time teaming up with M. Poirot rather than The Mysterious Mr. Quin. The finale came as a complete surprise to me. (view spoiler) ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Three-Act Tragedy, first published as Murder in Three Acts in 1934, proves that an Hercule Poirot novel with very little Hercule Poirot just doesn’t rise to Dame Agatha Christie’s usual high standards.

Charming, inoffensive Reverend Stephen Babbington suffers a fatal seizure after sipping a rye martini at a house party hosted by Sir Charles Cartwright, a famous stage actor with lots of charm and healthy self-regard. The authorities chalk it up to natural causes, but Sir Charles has some suspicion
Richard Derus
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: At an apparently respectable dinner party, a vicar is the first to die...Thirteen guests arrived at dinner at the actor's house. It was to be a particularly unlucky evening for the mild-mannered Reverend Stephen Babbington, who choked on his cocktail, went into convulsions and died. But when his martini glass was sent for chemical analysis, there was no trace of poison -- just as Poirot had predicted. Even more troubling for the great detective, there was ab
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vikas Singh
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is classic Poirot. For more than 70% of the time, all the running, talking to people, verifying alibis, working on motives is done by three people. Then walks in the master sleuth with his little grey cells and solves the crime!! A Christie fan will get an inkling of the murderer right in the beginning but nevertheless it is fun to read and discover the murderer in the end.
Three Act Tragedy has Poirot paired up with Mr, Satterthwaite. I don't even know how to pronounce the guys name and I don't ever want to know. I didn't really care for Mr. S (just because I never want to type out his name ever again) and I didn't really like him working with Poirot. I kind of felt that I was skimming a lot in this book because of him but at the same time not because of him? I don't know - I guess this book was just kind of meh or boring to me. I wish that I would've like it more ...more
Cindi (cheesygiraffe)
Poirot wasn't in this one a lot but it makes sense why in the last chapter.
This 5 episode radio drama was very well done, although it took me a while to adjust to someone other than David Suchet as Poirot's voice :) For some reason, this Christie had been left off in my GoodReads shelves but soon after starting, I did recognize the story. However, that didn't prevent my enjoying this production, which I actually listened to on air, and the episodic nature of the broadcast brought back happy childhood memories of listening to books on the radio during summer vacation.
Robin Stevens
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every time I read a Christie I remember why she's the Queen of the crime world. Her characters leap off of the page, her plots fizz along and there's not a single boring word. Stellar in every way, this theatrical murder mystery isn't even one of her best, and it's still brilliant. 12+

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a bit of an Agatha Christie kick lately. After never having read any of her books, Three Act Tragedy marks the fourth that I've read so far in 2017 (following And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd). So far, none have disappointed.

What I find so remarkable about Agatha Christie is that when I read her books, I never have the slightest clue whodunnit. With contemporary mysteries, I find that early on in the book I always have a guess.
Manuel Alfonseca
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
ENGLISH: This novel is good, it is original, different from the author's other novels. Besides, in this case I managed to discover, not just the identity of the murderer, but also how and why the murders had taken place, the latter earlier than Poirot. This does not always happen to me :-) In fact, I had read it forty years ago, but didn't remember anything at all. This novel is also curious because one of its main characters is Mr. Satterthwaite, who collaborated with the mysterious Mr. Quin in ...more
Jemima Ravenclaw
For an Agatha Christie novel, I found this one quite excruciatingly boring. It was very bitsy and messy in plot. The cast was overpopulated by would be sleuths. Having easily identified 'whodunnit' and 'howhedunnit' in chapter one, I spent the rest of the novel trying to get the rest over with. The characters were unloveable and underdeveloped. I did not enjoy having the narrative styles of the Mr Satterthwaite and Poirot mixed here. Poirot seemed pointless and one dimensional, missing his usual ...more
Trish at Between My Lines
3.5 stars and it's puzzling and fun. I was warned that the last line was a memorable one and IT SO WAS.

I loved the way the book was written in 3 acts like a play and that it included a casting list at the start. The language too really evoked that play theme and the dramatic events unfolded with momentum. Like all Agatha Christie books it's expertly crafted and gives you enough clues/red herrings to keep you guessing and eagerly reading.

I was a little sad at how little page time Poirot had as h
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Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in t

Other books in the series

Hercule Poirot (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
  • The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot, #2)
  • Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot, #3)
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4)
  • The Big Four (Hercule Poirot, #5)
  • The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot, #6)
  • Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot, #7)
  • Peril at End House (Hercule Poirot, #8)
  • Lord Edgware Dies (Hercule Poirot, #9)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)
“Mr. Satterthwaite looked cheered.

Suddenly an idea struck him. His jaw fell.

"My goodness," he cried, "I've only just realized it! That rascal, with his poisoned cocktail! Anyone might have drunk it! It might have been me!"

"There is an even more terrible possibility that you have not considered," said Poirot.


"It might have been me," said Hercule Poirot.”
“One knows so little. When one knows more it is too late.” 22 likes
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