Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie (1933)

Lady Edgware, the beautiful yet self-absorbed young wife of Lord Edgware, wants a divorce so she can marry and advance further up the social ladder. However, upon learning the unexpected news that her husband will grant her what she wishes, a scandal engulfs London as Lady Edgware is accused of murder when her husband is discovered dead in his library. Witnesses say they saw her at the scene of the crime, but she couldn’t possibly have done it as she has a cast iron alibi.

And so we begin another murder case for Hercule Poirot, our extraordinary Belgian detective, accompanied by his good friend Captain Hastings and their acquaintance Inspector Japp of the Yard. A revolving door of characters is presented to us, each with their own motives, dark desires and secrets. As quickly as one is introduced then we must dismiss the idea they are the murderer as their alibi holds tight or it’s just far too obvious.

Through her deft plotting Christie lays down the clues and red herrings directing and misdirecting until we are left with the only possible solution, but it’s not as easy as that and once more we are led down a blind alley before being guided out again and onto the right path…probably. This is the 9th book in the Poirot series (8th if you don’t count the play what she wrote) and whilst it could be argued that plots have an alarming similarity there’s always a new way of misdirection or death. I think it’s the number of different ways of presenting clues that fascinates me – bits of paper, overheard conversations, wigs, a pince nez (especially the pince nez). There may very well be variations on these props in other stories but there’s always a sense of freshness about it. Well, certainly for this reader anyhow.

I think one of the things I admire most about Christie is her compact story telling. Within a very few short pages, clues have been laid down or we’re presented with a murder. It’s all so very neat and yet…unhurried. We are able to take in the English or French countryside, the houses in town, the theatre and the bijou but exquisite restaurants that Poirot frequents. All the while he is the calming presence as those around him carry on chaotically.

It is perhaps no secret that Christie had no love for her creation and I wondered if this would show through in her writing. I’m almost half way through the canon and I think the cracks are beginning to show. Hastings, Poirot’s dim but likeable companion, vents his irritation at his friend’s repeated axiom about ‘resting the little grey cells’…on more than one occasion! And I think that Hastings is treated a little more kindly by Christie. Although he’s still a little dim he’s lost the arrogance that was present in the first few stories.

However, we have two of, perhaps, her most well known stories yet to come – Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. My knowledge of these stories extends to the movies from the 70s and the most recent Branagh offerings (I have enjoyed them all immensely). Hastings is not present so I imagine the stories are told from the third person limited perspective (but shall confirm), so we won’t necessarily get to know what Poirot’s companions really think of him. More’s the pity of course…

So far I’m enjoying the stories and not only that but it’s an interesting view of London and Europe in the early 1930s. And this story also marks 13 years of publications for Christie and yet it feels like she’s barely getting into her stride. Next up is Murder on the Orient Express – which won’t need much introduction of course. But M. Poirot will have to wait in Istanbul for a while as I have a book club read to get through for this month which is mammoth – Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell.


6 thoughts on “Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie (1933)

    1. Hi Robbie, really interested to hear what you think! I love her characters – there’s always an element of naughtiness about them. A friend recommended a podcast called ‘Shedunnit’ and it discusses the golden age of detective novels. It’s really interesting. Agatha gets lots of honourable mentions.
      And thank you for your kind words – I do appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

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