Sunday, July 4, 2021

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

Mr. Shaitana is an exotic, wealthy, and mysterious man, who likes to collect rare objects. In an exhibition, he met Hercule Poirot, and told him about his latest collection: murderers. Yes, murderers. That is, people whom he knows or suspects had committed murders, but were untouched by the justice. Ignoring Poirot's warning about the danger of this kind of amusement, he invited Poirot to a dinner party where he would exhibit his collection.

The dinner party turns out to be very interesting. Of the eight guests invited, four of them are the murderers, while four others are the "sleuths": Poirot, Inspector Battle, Colonel Race, and Ariadne Oliver - the crime writer. All four have appeared in some of Christie's novels, and this is a rare occasion where we meet the four of them in one novel (usually there are max. two of them). After dinner, there's a bridge game. The sleuths are playing in the next room, while the murderers are playing in the same room where Mr. Shaitana is relaxing by the fire.

You must have guessed what happens next. At the end of the game, Mr. Shaitana was found dead, stabbed with a stiletto from his own collection. All of the four have, at one time or other, at least once or twice, left the table for a moment to get drinks, and none of them paid much attention of the others because their focuses were, of course, on the game. Or at least, for the three of them, because one thing is sure - one of them is the murderer, and the motive is to prevent Mr. Shaitana from disclosing their crime. But which one? Are they all have committed murder in past?

I must say this is one of the most interesting stories from Agatha Christie. The suspect has been narrowed down to four persons, with no alibi. Motive is clear. Method is straightforward. The only way to solve it is by digging into the past murders and analyzing the psychology of each murderer, including their method of playing bridge. Each member of the sleuths takes part in the investigation, but of course, in the end, it's Poirot's grey cells which will get to the final answer. Interesting case, with a bit thriller and some twists!

Rating: 4 / 5