1936, reprinted 1984
Bantom Book Dodd, Meade & Company
New York, NY
Cards on the Table is the 20th mystery novel published by Dame Agatha Christie and the 13th to include Hercule Poirot as the lead detective.
An enjoyable evening of bridge turns into a murder investigation when the flamboyant host Mr. Shaitana is found dead. Can the four invited investigators -- Hercule Poirot, Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race and Ariadne Oliver -- discover which of the other four guests is the killer? All four had the opportunity -- and all four have something to hide. After all, their host seemed certain that each of them had already gotten away with murder. (Summary courtesy of AgathaChristie.com)
Before coming upon this novel in my personal Agatha Christie reading challenge I'd never heard of Cards on the Table. Although Christie penned over 80 novels I thought I'd heard of them all. I mean if you ask any reader of mysteries if they can name a story or novel written by Christie it's pretty likely they'll be able to list quite a few. I mean there's a reason that Christie is called the Queen of Crime and that she holds the record for best selling crime writer of all time. Still, I was both surprised and excited to pick up a novel that I knew nothing about.
Overall I enjoyed Cards on the Table. Maybe not Christie at her best, but still pretty good. The plot was unique, clever, and quick moving... But it also had a few holes. Generally Christie is good about tying up lose ends, but she missed a few at the end of this novel, which I found a tad annoying. Still, I definitely enjoyed this novel, more so then I did the previous Poirot mystery. The story takes place in the heart of England (my favorite setting for a Christie mystery) and although Poirot solves this mystery without Hastings the supporting cast of detectives add a special flare to the mystery and there is still plenty of witty dialog and puzzling clues to keep any Christie reader happy.
As for the mystery I wasn't very successful in solving this one. I did pick up on several clues, but in the end I had to wait for Poirot to reveal the answer. Perhaps I'd have a better chance at it if I knew how to play Bridge -- the card game that is tied to the solution of the crime.
In closing, if you haven't read Cards on the Table this is an entertaining and puzzling mystery that should be added to your reading list. As a side note avid fans of Christie should note that this very mystery plot was mentioned in The A.B.C. Murders by Poirot to Hastings as his idea of the perfect crime. Likewise reference is made to both The A.B.C. Murders and Murder on the Orient Express, both with spoilers, so beware.
Next on my list for 2009, Dumb Witness, yet another Poirot mystery. Stay tuned!