Lord Edgware Dies: “The memory of the public is short.”
Also Published as: Thirteen at Dinner
Detective: Hercule Poirot
Published: September 1933
Length: 269 pages
After attending a performance by the impressionist Carlotta Adams, Poirot is approached by the well-known actress Jane Wilkerson who engages him to complete a task. The commission? To convince her husband, Lord Edgware, to grant her a divorce so that she is free to marry the Duke of Merton. It appears that her husband has been less than agreeable to dissolve their partnership, yet Jane, in her self-absorbed confidence, is adamant that Poirot will succeed where she has failed.
But shock! Lord Edgware meets Poirot and admits that he has already agreed to divorce his wife and, in fact, wrote her a letter attesting to this fact. What is afoot? Was Jane lying? Was Lord Edgware lying? Did the letter go astray? These questions, while pertinent to the investigation, become even more intriguing when Lord Edgware is discovered murdered, stabbed through the neck with a penknife.
Jane Wilkerson was seen by both Lord Edgware’s butler and secretary visiting her husband the night of his death and seems the perfect suspect. But wait! The morning paper reveals that she was present at a dinner party that evening and could not have met with Lord Edgware. How on earth could Lady Edgware be in two places at one time??
Another suicide muddies the investigative waters but Poirot is up to the task. With Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp alongside, Poirot employs his little grey cells along the logical journey to unmask a rather cold-blooded killer with devious intentions.
Admittedly, this is not my favourite Poirot and I’m not quite sure why. Partly, I didn’t enjoy the characters, which I tend to experience whenever a writer goes off into the world of entertainment. I suspect that the film stars appear more like caricatures, rather than real people, so the effect of their experiences is diminished within the scope of the story. The mystery itself was quite well-plotted but, again, left me feeling rather flat.
I included the bookcover at the beginning of the review as a startling example of lack of attention to detail, basically an alarming mistake. NO ONE in the novel was murdered by a gunshot. Two murders were by stabbing and a third by poisoning. How on earth anyone could have approved a cover like that is mind-blowing!!
The next read is The Hound of Death, a compilations of short stories with, what sounds like, a rather ghostly appeal. I won’t hold my breath but I’m hoping for better reading!