Saturday, August 28, 2021

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

Dumb Witness is probably, if not one of my favorites, certainly one of the most memorable Christie's novels for me. As a crime novel, its plot is mediocre. Indeed, there are some flaws, which is not of Christie's usual quality. But maybe, she has intended to write it rather casually, and out of her love of her family.

I loved it mostly because of one character: Bob, the dog. Yes, he is the fox terrier you usually see on the cover (at least I noticed that some editions use the dog's image on their covers). Does it mean Bob IS the dumb witness in this story? I wish!! Imagine, if only Bob did see the murderer did something, and unwittingly, when he asks Hastings to play, eventually leads Poirot to a clue - it would have been wonderful! But unfortunately, no. Bob just lends his careless habit of putting his toy ball on the top stair to inspire an accident.

Bob's owner is Miss Emily Arundell, a wealthy but prudish spinster. She makes it clear that after her death, her wealth would be divided equally to her nephew and nieces: Thomas, Theresa, and Bella - whom, in a way or other - need the money badly. One night during the stay of the nephew and nieces, Emily Arundell fell from the stairs after tripping over something. They found Bob's ball laid on the top stair in the morning, but is it really the cause? Later on Hercule Poirot found a nail covered with varnish on the top stairs (on which, deduced Poirot, the murderer tied a string that has tripped Emily Arundell). So, it's a murder attempt after all! - and poor Bob has been wrongly accused!!

There'd be a real murder at some point, but the one stuck in my memory is always the stairs accident, for two reasons. First, since it's the only incident which linked Bob with the case. And then, the incident itself seems to be rather forced. How can someone think of hammering and varnishing a nail in the middle of the night, while the nearest bedroom door is slightly opened?

As I said, it's a weak crime story; not one of Christie's brilliant works, I admit, but memorable and heartwarming nevertheless. Far from disappointed, I admired Christie more for writing variable crime novels which are are always entertaining!

Rating: 4 / 5


  1. I've been reading quite a bit of Christie as we are in a second lockdown so there are not the usual activities happening. I'm just not doing a lot of reviews. I liked this one and have just started on some of the Miss Marple books that I hadn't read before. I agree, her novels are very entertaining even if sometimes the plot isn't fantastic.

    1. Are they your first read, Carol?
      I should be interested in reading your thoughts on them! :)


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