Ordeal By Innocence

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While serving a sentence for killing his mother - a crime he insisted he didn't commit - Jacko Argyle dies in prison. Two years later, the man who could have supported Jacko's alibi suddenly turns up...

In a letter to a Japanese fan, Agatha Christie claimed Ordeal by Innocence was one of her favourites.

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About this story

First released

September 1958 (abridged in John Bull, UK)

Genre

  • Murder Mystery

Formats

  • Novel, 
  • TV, 
  • Graphic Novel, 
  • Film

Murder methods

Setting

  • House

Two years after Jacko was convicted of the murder of his adopted mother and has died in jail, his alibi steps forward. Dr Calgary had been out of the country during the trial and only heard news of it upon his return. Certain that Jacko was innocent, Dr Calgary takes it upon himself to investigate the past.

A psychological endeavour on Agatha Christie’s part, this story signifies a shift in style from some of her earlier, light works, and focuses largely on conversation, memory and perception, as each sibling suspects each other of the murder of their somewhat eccentric ...

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Two years after Jacko was convicted of the murder of his adopted mother and has died in jail, his alibi steps forward. Dr Calgary had been out of the country during the trial and only heard news of it upon his return. Certain that Jacko was innocent, Dr Calgary takes it upon himself to investigate the past.

A psychological endeavour on Agatha Christie’s part, this story signifies a shift in style from some of her earlier, light works, and focuses largely on conversation, memory and perception, as each sibling suspects each other of the murder of their somewhat eccentric foster mother. The book was dedicated “To Billy Collins with affection and gratitude”. It was he who had convinced Christie to leave her one-sided deal with the Bodley Head, the publishers of her first six books, and to switch to William Collins Sons & Co in 1926. Now known as HarperCollins, they are Agatha Christie's UK and US publishers to this day.

It was first published in 1958 and it was in 1984 that the story was first adapted for film. It starred Donald Sutherland, Faye Dunaway and Christopher Plummer, and featured an interesting soundtrack that is often thought to conflict with the atmosphere of the film. In 2007, the story featured Miss Marple as part of the ITV television series, played by Geraldine McEwan. 2008 saw Ordeal by Innocence published as a graphic novel.



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