Black Coffee

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A scientist develops a lethal chemical formula which is taken by a guest in his house. He asked for it back and is murdered when the lights go out. Can Poirot discover the truth?

‘A lively and light-hearted read which will give pleasure to all those who have long wished that there was just one more Christie to devour.’

Antonia Fraser, Sunday Telegraph


About this story

First released

December 1930 (performed at Embassy Theatre, Swiss Cottage)

Genre

  • Detective, 
  • Espionage

Formats

  • Novel, 
  • Play, 
  • Television Film

Recurring characters

  • Poirot, 
  • Hastings, 
  • Tredwell

Murder methods

Setting

  • House

Disappointed with the portrayal of Poirot in other people’s adaptations of her novels, Agatha Christie decided it was best to write her own. She began in 1929, following the production of Alibi (based on The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) as well as several motion-pictures which she felt didn’t do justice to the characters they portrayed.

She modestly considered the play “a conventional spy thriller ... full of clichés, it was, I think, not at all bad". Poirot was played by Francis L. Sullivan, with whom Christie became friends.

The play was first published by Alfred and Sons in ...

Read more

Disappointed with the portrayal of Poirot in other people’s adaptations of her novels, Agatha Christie decided it was best to write her own. She began in 1929, following the production of Alibi (based on The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) as well as several motion-pictures which she felt didn’t do justice to the characters they portrayed.

She modestly considered the play “a conventional spy thriller ... full of clichés, it was, I think, not at all bad". Poirot was played by Francis L. Sullivan, with whom Christie became friends.

The play was first published by Alfred and Sons in November 1934. It was adapted for film starring Austin Trevor in 1931, who had previously played Poirot in the film version of Alibi made by the same studio. In 1932 it was filmed again, this time in France by Les Établissements Jacques Haïk, and was released internationally as The Lacquered Box. This was the first non-English treatment of Agatha Christie’s work. In 1998 the play was adapted into a novel by Australian-born Charles Osborne.

On 15th July 2012 David Suchet and friends performed a staged reading of Black Coffee at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Naturally David Suchet played Poirot, with George Layton as Inspector Japp and David Yelland as Captain Arthur Hastings. A recording of the Post-Show Talk is available on YouTube.

 



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