The Listerdale Mystery by Agatha Christie

The Listerdale Mystery

The Listerdale Mystery: “Mrs. St. Vincent was adding up figures.”

Detective: None, as these are various tales of murder & suspense

Published: June 1934

Length: 192 pages

Setting: various


House in Westminster

The Listerdale Mystery

Mrs. St. Vincent with her daughter, Barbara, and her son, Rupert, lives in constrained circumstances in a boarding house despite her genteel upbringing.  When she comes across an advertisement in the posting for a house in Westminster at a “nomimal rent” she suspects it’s too good to be true.  However, soon she finds herself moving in with a helpful butler named Quentin.  But where is Lord Listerdale, the owner, who generosity is very puzzling?  And do the family have a murder on their hands?

Philomel Cottage

Alix Martin has a tentative relationship at her work with a man named Dick, however when she comes into money, she senses his discomfort at her windfall. Then she meets Gerald and after a very short romance, marries him.  They find a lovely place to live called Philomel Cottage, however Alix has a disturbing recurring dream: she sees Gerald dead on the floor with Dick standing over him. Then Dick phones wanting to come and see her and Alix declines.  However, more strange happenings occur when Alix discovers that her  husband has told the gardener that she is leaving for London the next day with no date of return, yet she knows nothing of it.  He also told the gardener that the cottage cost $2000 but Gerald had told her it was $3000 and she gave him part of her inheritance to purchase it.  When she finds his daytimer in the garden and an appointment is marked for 9 pm that evening but with nothing beside it, her suspicions mount. What will happen at 9 pm and why does it appear that Gerald has lied?  And will Alix discover the truth to her own demise?

London Train

London Train
~ source Wikimedia Commons

The Girl in the Train

When George Rowland decides to leave town after being chastized by his uncle for his dissolute behaviour, he finally decides that his destination will be Rowland Castle, to discover if it is connected with his name. George is surprised on the train to London by a young woman bursting into his compartment and begging him to hide her.  A gruff foreign-looking man with a moustache comes to demand his “niece” back but George detains him by calling for a station guard.  Elizabeth, the woman, cannot tell him who she is running from and why, but, as she disembarks, she gives him a package and extracts a promise from him to follow a dark, bearded man who just got on the train.  George follows and thus begins an adventure that George couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams!

Sing A Song of Six Pence

Sir Edward Palliser, KC, is surprised one day when a woman arrives at his home asking for his help.  He’d met Magdalen Vaughn on a boat trip ten years previously where he’d perhaps unwisely promised to help her in any way he could.  But now help her he must, only the problem is rather shocking.  Magdalen’s great aunt, Mrs. Crabtree, has just been murdered and the suspects are Magdalen’s brother, Mrs. Crabtree’s nephew William and his wife Emily, and her servant, Martha.  Poor Mrs. Crabtree’s head had been bashed in with a paperweight.  Each of the four people in the house had relied on the old woman for money and now each would inherit a quarter of her estate.  Yet one of them is the murderer.  Palliser begins his investigation with surprising results!

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a Song of Sixpence ~ source Wikimedia Commons

The Manhood of Edward Robinson

Controlled by his headstrong fiancée, Maud, meek Edward Robinson, impulsively buys a two-seat car after winning $500 in a competition about which he does not tell Maud.  On Christmas Eve, he goes on a drive through the country and, after stopping for a walk, he returns to his car only to find a diamond necklace on the seat.  But wait!  The car is not his; it is someone else’s car.  Also in the car is a note to meet a person he doesn’t know at 10 o’clock at a nearby village.  When Edward keeps the assignation, he is treated to the adventure of his life!


Evans, an ex-inspector, spots a woman, Mrs. Merrowdene, who was previously Mrs. Anthony and was previously suspected of poisoning her husband although she had been acquitted.  He shares this information with his friend, Captain Haddock.  Suspicious, Evans investigates and finds earlier her stepfather fell to his death while walking with her and that he had opposed her love of a young man. When Evans discovers her present husband has taken out a life insurance policy, he sets out to prevent another murder.  With a rather cool murderess and a plot twist that is typical Christie, the story comes to an unexpected conclusion.

Natura Morta Accidentale

Natura Morta Accidentale ~ source Wikiart

Jane in Search of a Job

Twenty-six year old Jane Cleveland lives in a boarding house, is financially strapped and in need of a job.  She sees a newspaper advertisement asking for a girl of her age and build, who can mimic and speak French so she goes to the address indicated.  There she beats out other possible applicants, meets Count Streptitch and Princess Poporensky and discovers that they want her to impersonate Grand Duchess Paulina of Ostrava who is the victim of a communist revolution in her country and a possible target of assassination.  Plucky Jane agrees to their plan. What follows is a jewel heist, a hold-up, a kidnapping and a rather satisfying ending.

A Fruitful Sunday

Housemaid Dorothy Pratt goes out for a Sunday drive with her young man, Edward Palgrove and they stop at a fruit stand for some sustenance.  While buying a basket of fruit, the seller tells them they’ve gotten more than they paid for. When they stop to eat the fruit, they find a ruby necklace inside the basket, a necklace of which they’d just read about its theft in the Sunday paper.  There is a disagreement about what they should do with it and the tale continues.  This story was pretty average and not particularly interesting.

Boy with a Basket of Fruit

Boy With A Basket of Fruit ~ Caravaggio ~ source Wikiart

Mr. Eastwood’s Adventures

Wrter’s block has come upon Anthony Eastwood and for inspiration he types, “The Mystery of the Second Cucumber.”  Imagine his shock when he receives a phone call from a girl, Carmen, begging for his help to rescue her and giving him the codeword “cucumber.”  When he arrives at the address given, a second-hand glass shop, he eventually gives the word “cucumber” and is sent to the second floor where he meets Carmen, a beautiful foreign girl who hopes he has not been followed to the shop as Boris is “a fiend”.  The police suddenly appear and arrest Anthony for the murder of a lady named Anna Rosenburg.  He takes them back to his flat to prove his innocence and from there the story takes a decided twist in an unexpected direction

The Golden Ball

Fired by his uncle for often not showing up to work and missing “the golden ball of opportunity,” George Dundas meets a girl driving around Hyde Park who asks him if he’d like to marry her.  He answers yes before he sees newspapers announcing her engagement to the Duke of Edgehill which she does not seem thrilled about.  Driving into the country, they spot a house that they like, are taken inside by a butler and then held up by gunpoint.  What transpires from here is rather amusing.

Golden Ball

courtesy of Rihaij on Pixabay

The Rajah’s Emerald’s

Young James Bond and his girlfriend, Grace, travel to a popular coastal resort for a holiday.  While he stays in a boarding house, she gets a room at the fancy Esplanade Hotel where she finds that her friend Claud Sopworth and his three sisters are also staying, however Claud treats James in a very offhand manner. They all go bathing in the sea but because James is not staying at the hotel, he cannot use their bathhouses.  When he discovers a long cue for the public ones, he sneaks into a private one attached to a villa, changes into his bathing suit leaving his clothes and returns later to change again.  Miffed with Grace for teasing him cruelly, he goes off to eat by himself but lo!  He finds an emerald in his pocket and quickly deduces that he’s put on the wrong trousers and that the emerald belongs to the Rajah of Maraputna who is staying at Lord Campion’s villa. When the emerald is claimed as stolen, James has some explaining to do but with some careful deductive work of his own, the story takes an interesting turn!


Swan Song

A temperamental opera singer, Madame Paula Nazorkoff is in London to do some performances, one of which is at the castle of Lord and Lady Rustonbury of whom she seems to recognize and changes the performance from “Madame Butterfly” to “Tosca“. When the man who is set to play “Scarpia” falls ills, Lady Rustonbury asks her neighbour, Eduoard Brèon, a retired French singer to fill in and he agrees, saying the best “Tosca” he saw was years ago performed by a young girl named Bianca Capelli and when he refused to help her gangster lover who was condemned to death, she entered a convent.  The past merges with the present and Tosca plays out in a way that no one expects.


~ source Wikipedia

While on one hand these stories were rather average, the twists that Christie added to them made them more interesting.  Your mind should be open to the unbelievable though, for maximum enjoyment!


⇐  Unfinished Portrait  (Westmacott)                       Why Didn’t They Ask Evans ⇒

4 thoughts on “The Listerdale Mystery by Agatha Christie

  1. Hi Cleo! Tried to do a “like” but WordPress had other ideas! I’ve never read much Agatha Christie; although I like detective fiction I seemed somehow to have skipped most of her stuff. I was very interested in your nice summaries of this Christie stories, however, as I might enjoy dipping into and out of this collection when I don’t feel like tackling a novel.

    • I don’t think WordPress likes me much lately. 😜

      There are better short stories than this compilation. So far I like The Thirteen Problems best which are Miss Marple short stories and Poirot Investigates is good as well. The Hound of Death is more supernatural-ish …. interesting but not fabulous. I really enjoy Christie’s books and I can’t believe that she wrote so many and kept up the level of quality she did. Amazing!

  2. I haven’t read this collection, but your summing up of the stories is about how I’ve felt with Christie’s short stories – maybe it’s more about my preferences, but I feel like Christie does better with full-length novels. (Although I rather liked The Mysterious Mr. Quin. That said, your short little summaries have me curious to read these ones!

    • I like her short stories but agree that her novels are better. I did like Poirot Investigates and the Thirteen Problems was very good. The Mysterious Mr. Quin would be after those two IMO. But on with my Christie challenge! (And catching up with my reviews!)

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