Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Incredible Theft (1937) by Agatha Christie #NovNov23

📑 The dinner at Lord Charles Mayfield that night was no ordinary dinner party. The guests are Sir George Carrington - Air Marshal - with his wife and son; Mrs. Vanderlyn - beautiful American woman who often involves in espionage using her beauty to extract secrets from her victims; Mrs. Macatta; and Mayfield's secretary, Carlisle.

📑 The dinner was only a camouflage of the more important agenda: the secret meeting between Lord Mayfield and the Air Marshal concerning plans of the new bomber plane which will make England superior. Carlisle was instructed to lay out the plans on the table ready for the two prominent figures of the country, while they were taking a short after-dinner stroll.

📑 Things happened quickly in that very short time. Lord Mayfield thought he saw a shadow coming out of the room, while Sir George saw nothing. And when they were finally ready to start the meeting, the plans were stolen! Carlisle admitted that during their absence, he went out of the room after Mrs. Vanderlyn's maid screamed on the stairs, which she said, because she saw a ghost...

📑 Due to the sensitivity of the situation, the police couldn't be involved to investigate the matter. Sir George suggested then, to call Hercule Poirot, who soon decided that the theft was an insider. But which one? Is it Mrs. Vanderlyn, whom Lord Mayfield suggested? Or Carlisle, whom Mayfield defended? Or another unexpected one?

📑 I knew I hadn't read this novella before, but somehow the premise was familiar to me. A quick research told me that this was actually an expansion of Christie's earlier short story: The Submarine Plans. She altered the submarine to bomber plane, expand the story, and changed the characters; but the essence is there.

📑 On the whole, it's an interesting case. The theft is quite cleverly crafted, though it lacks subtlety. At least, there were some fishy things from the beginning, which should have led to the thief's identity. The element which was supposed to be red herring felt rather childish, and I wonder who would believe that. The solution was not very satisfying also, but it is still entertaining enough.

Rating: 3,5 / 5

I read this book for:

For Bingo Card: Private Detective


  1. I have forgotten the solution to this one but it was fun nevertheless. Perhaps inspired a little by the Naval Treaty story from Sherlock Holmes.

    1. I found that Christie's are always fun, though not always satisfying.


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