Cards on the Table

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Mr Shaitana, a flamboyant party host and secret keeper, invites Poirot to a dinner party. But when Shaitana dies, why are there four murderers on the scene? Ariadne Oliver's first appearance.

“Of course, the gift of bamboozlement, with which Agatha Christie was born, remains, and has never been seen to better advantage than in this close, diverting and largely analytical problem. Cards on the Table is perhaps the most perfect of the little grey cells”

The Observer, 1936


About this story

First released

May 1936 (serialised in The Saturday Evening Post, US)

Genre

  • Murder Mystery, 
  • Detective

Formats

  • Novel, 
  • TV, 
  • Play, 
  • Graphic Novel

Recurring characters

  • Poirot, 
  • Ariadne Oliver, 
  • Battle, 
  • Colonel Johnny Race, 
  • Colonel John Hugh Despard

Murder methods

Setting

  • House

Four murders, four detectives, Agatha Christie present a clever puzzle at a bridge game in which any player could have murdered their loathsome host. The foreword even mentions that this was one of Poirot’s favourite cases, while Hastings found it rather dull.

This book was also the debut of Agatha Christie’s literary alter ego and parody of herself, Ariadne Oliver, a popular detective writer through whom Christie often voiced her opinions of the industry. One of the characters of the story even recognises Mrs Oliver as writing the novel The Body in the Library, a title Christie then ...

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Four murders, four detectives, Agatha Christie present a clever puzzle at a bridge game in which any player could have murdered their loathsome host. The foreword even mentions that this was one of Poirot’s favourite cases, while Hastings found it rather dull.

This book was also the debut of Agatha Christie’s literary alter ego and parody of herself, Ariadne Oliver, a popular detective writer through whom Christie often voiced her opinions of the industry. One of the characters of the story even recognises Mrs Oliver as writing the novel The Body in the Library, a title Christie then adopted for her own Marple novel in 1942.

It was adapted for stage in 1981, omitting the character of Poirot as Agatha Christie had done in many of her own adaptations, and opened at the Vaudeville Theatre. In 2005 David Suchet starred in the story for the series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Zoë Wanamaker was Ariadne Oliver, a role which would become associated with the actress. A graphic novel adaptation was published in July 2010.



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