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Poirot Buddy Reads > Poirot Buddy Read 8 SPOILER THREAD: Black Coffee

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Jessica | 362 comments Go Ahead and Discuss all the curious plot twists of this classic "someone in this room is the murderer" story.

This month might turn out to be a bit divisive in our group. We're reading "Black Coffee" a novelisation of an Agatha Christie play. The purists amongst us might choose to read the original script (Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts).

I will read the novelization and am quite curious about it! I think it will keep the Poirot experience fresh for us all, as it will chronologically fit in with where we are but this is a different writer and might be a very different experience indeed. A New York Times review (1983, https://www.nytimes.com/1983/09/18/ny...) states that the story might actually be more suited to a book than the stage. And bonus! Hastings plays a part here too!

Apparently, the play the book is based on was one of the least known works by Christie. There are some movie adaptations, but not many and none recent...

Well, here we go! I am looking forward to reading what you all think of it :-)


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1948 comments I'm not really keen on Fan-Fiction and am surprised this has been included on the Christie list. The plot was ok, but then it would be as that was Christie's, but to me it never really read as a Christie book. Poirot in tweeds! surprised galoshes weren't included as well, just to shoot down the whole character. A big disappointment, but suppose it was a money thing for the family.


message 3: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 758 comments I agree that while it tried to keep within the Christie framework, it didn't feel right. And how strange to make Hastings into little more than a walk-on character.


Susan | 9627 comments Mod
Just started this and note that Poirot muses on his, and Hastings, last case - the Big 4. So she must have written the play before finishing the Blue Train?

It is interesting that, just as Christie was becoming well known, she had her disappearance and a crisis in her writing. Yet, she seemed able to weather the storm and to get even better. I suspect her GA will arrive around Christmas, when we get to some of her real classics - even though we have already had Roger Ackroyd.


Tara  | 764 comments Its hard to say whether knowing this wasn't truly a Christie story impacted my view on it, but I was not a fan. I suppose it goes to show, that even with the same raw materials as Christie, the same magic doesn't necessarily result.


Susan | 9627 comments Mod
I finished this now. I do think that Charles Osborne tried to give a faithful re-telling, but, in doing so, he was pretty limited in what he could write. People go in and out of doors, lights go off, people act shiftily and it feels like he is just re-counting the play. He was obviously unwilling to put his own mark on it and the novelisation suffers because of it.


Sandy | 2631 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Just started this and note that Poirot muses on his, and Hastings, last case - the Big 4. So she must have written the play before finishing the Blue Train?

It is interesting that, just as Christi..."


It could have been written after Blue Train but Big Four was the last case with Hastings?


Sandy | 2631 comments Mod
Not a great read but it may have been a fine two hour play: single setting, limited characters, romantic interest, fairly simple plot. I'm not sure what the author could have done; he would make some unhappy if he changed, or expanded, too much.

I wondered how many Poirot mannerisms were included in the script. Did the play come with instructions on how to play Poirot?

And would I have noticed the staging if I hadn't known it started as a play, or would I just think it was a poor Christie? I didn't know Big Four was cobbled together short stories and assumed 'bad Christie'. (I still don't like it but now I know why.)


Susan | 9627 comments Mod
Yes, Big Four may have been the last Hastings book, that's true, Sandy.

It is a good point, as we obviously read this knowing it was a play. Charles Osborne was stuck either way, wasn't he? If he'd changed too much, he would have been criticised. As he stuck to the plot, and setting exactly, it is a bit limiting.


Jessica | 362 comments Poirot's reminiscences also first threw me off. Thinking that I was just faithfully following the timeline by adding this adaption and then finding it appeared in the wrong place still... but indeed the Big Four was the last case he did with Hastings. Then Hastings left for the Argentine and Poirot went on the train.

I also agree that this adaption could have been better if Osborne had dared to take a little more liberties. Now he tries to imitate closely but often strikes a wrong note somehow. The married Hastings prancing around after a girl as her pet ...

I kept waiting for an exciting twist that never came, and what happened to the suspicious young doctor sideline? Still, I think as a play it probably would be quite fun .


Tara  | 764 comments Jessica wrote: "Poirot's reminiscences also first threw me off. Thinking that I was just faithfully following the timeline by adding this adaption and then finding it appeared in the wrong place still... but indee..."

That also annoyed me about Hastings Jessica! I know that he was a sucker for girls with auburn hair, but that seemed like a ridiculous thing for him to do. You would think after all of the investigations he has participated in, that he would be less susceptible to ladies with shady motives.


Adrian | 135 comments I must admit I agree with all your comments. I finished the book a week ago and as I put in my review, it lacked a certain "Agatha-ness" which made it feel rather weak.
I bought this especially for the challenge and have already given it to a charity shop, I shall never re-read


Tracey | 246 comments The book did feel Agatha Christie - lite! It was a quick read, a little bit farcical at times, especially when Hastings got dragged out of being on guard by Barbara. The plot felt familiar to me, though I've not seen the play or read this before. I wonder if it's a TV adaptation that I've seen before?


Susan | 9627 comments Mod
I think the Hastings behaviour made more sense on stage - showing he was keen on the ladies, easily led, etc. and giving a little comic relief. On the page, it looked wrong and heavy handed.


Jessica | 362 comments Well, thank you all for joining me on the adventure here ;-). I also wasn't really very impressed by it, but now we are all truly ready for the "real" next instalment!


Susan | 9627 comments Mod
Yes, I have already read (or rather, listened) to Peril at End House so am ready for September :)


Adrian | 135 comments Susan wrote: "Yes, I have already read (or rather, listened) to Peril at End House so am ready for September :)"

And me, oops. Although I read rather than listened, I got Poirot carried away


message 18: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Oh good, Peril at End House. I read that a while ago and shall have to rely on memory as I'm overseas and away from my battered books.


Frances (francesab) | 364 comments I'm way behind as I had trouble getting my hands on a copy of this-the wait from the library was surprisingly endless and then I came across a very cheap copy in the library 2nd hand shelves (Yay!). Glad I didn't spend too much on it as I agree with all the comments so far-feels very derivative and almost a caricature of Poirot and Hastings (who are already caricatures in many ways!).

Moving along to Peril at End House...


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