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Three Act Tragedy

(Hercule Poirot #11)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  24,714 ratings  ·  1,459 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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Marlene Aside from the fact that he'd be the top suspect, this is a great question! It didn't occur to me at all.…moreAside from the fact that he'd be the top suspect, this is a great question! It didn't occur to me at all.(less)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Three Act Tragedy = Murder in three acts (Hercule Poirot #11), Agatha Christie

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 his wife Cynthia
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A harmless guy dropped dead after drinking a cocktail at a party thrown by a famous actor at his resort.
Everybody was convinced the death was natural including Hercule Poirot who happened to be one of the guests. However when some time later a prominent doctor died under the same circumstances no doubt about murder remained and Poirot had to eat his own words. If anybody think he dropped everything and started investigating let me assure you he did not. Outside of very occasional scenes he only
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
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christie
Agatha Christie's Belgian detective,Hercule Poirot declares that he has retired,but when the nasty business of murder confronts him,how can he not investigate ?

And as he says,at the very end,he is lucky not to have become a victim himself.The murderer has already struck twice,and is preparing to kill again.

Intriguing as it may sound,this is one of the worst Christie books I have read.Too slow and disjointed,the story just plods along.

Poirot's own appearance is relatively brief,and Christie chan
Dave 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, among others, 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-shaped-head Belgian.

Story: A re
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-mystery
The Three Act Tragedy is 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.

We see only a little of Hercule Poirot in the story after his appearance in the first act till he re-enters in the third. So instead of Poirot, we see two armature detectives poking their noses around to find clues and gathering evidence in the effort to establish the identity of th
Bionic Jean
Three Act Tragedy, published in 1935 and also known as “Murder in Three Acts” is not a play, but a novel by Agatha Christie. It is her ninth novel to feature her famous Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, who had already starred in a collection of short stories and an actual play. Agatha Christie’s readers were beginning to look forward to an appearance by their favourite pompous, puffed-up little retired detective, and much of the humour in these books comes from his behaviour and the attitude of t ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well this was a pleasant surprise, as I couldn't remember the entire plot or story when I started reading - which is usually the case, having been a fan for so long.
Not only did I not remember - I didn't guess the murderer until 85%!
Perfect entertainment. For some bizarre reason, I imagined Charles Cartwright all the way through as Laurence Olivier, yet Poirot was still David Suchet (who else?!) ...
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A very enjoyable mystery that kept me guessing. I really enjoyed the strong characterizations. One of the main characters has the rather unusual nickname of Egg. At some point quite far along in the story the nickname Egg is explained, apparently when Hermione Lytton Gore was tiny she would fall over each time she tried to get up, rather like an egg and the name stuck. It reminded me of the egg-shaped weebles that were popular when my sister was little in the early 1970s. I can remember the jing ...more
Dr. Laurel Young
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I freely admit to my own bias: the reason I recently gave Peril at End House only 3 stars is the same reason I am giving Three Act Tragedy five--I solved End House with embarrassing speed (for reasons outlined in my review), whereas Three Act Tragedy blindsided me. I was absolutely convinced that I knew who the murderer was, and I think Christie predicted that the careful reader would think so, hence her playing with us in a scene at the end when a certain person tries to destroy evidence. I lov ...more
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
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
samantha  (books-are-my-life20)
Keeps you guessing till the last page.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-christie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simona B
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). ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016, mystery
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 -
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
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery
Really good! Christie told this story with a different structure that I enjoyed. I never guessed who was the murderer (mind you, I almost never do!).
Vikas Singh
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
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.
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.
Thomas Strömquist
A Poirot with our favourite little Belgian detective missing from half of the narrative for no apparent reason what does that give? Quite a boring story, actually. The entire thing is saved by the charming Hermione ‘Egg’ Lytton Gore and an ok ending. Not by far top of the lot though.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What friend?"
"Hercule Poirot."
"That man!" The expression burst from Oliver. "Is he back in England?"
"Why has he come back?"
Mr. Satterthwaite rose. "Why does a dog go hunting?" he inquired.
And, rather pleased with his retort, he left the room.

**Updated to reflect the addition (at the bottom of this review) of a link to a wonderful article about David Suchet, as well as a a link to his brand-new book, released yesterday! (October 3rd, 2019)

Originally published as Murder in Three Acts
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
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! ...more
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
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
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
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
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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 47 books)
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  • The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot, #2)
  • Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot, #3)
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4)
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  • The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot, #6)
  • Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot, #7)
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“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.” 28 likes
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