Appointment With Death

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1938

Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.

With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.

They have been in prison so long that if the prison door stands open they would no longer notice!

Dr Gerard, Appointment With Death

More about this story

When the corpse of Mrs Boynton is found among the cliffs of Petra, Hercule Poirot remembers the words of one of her step-children: “You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?” In true form, Poirot gives himself 24 hours to solve the case.

One of Agatha Christie’s many stories inspired by her travels in the Middle East, this one also shows a different side of Poirot. In fact when the story first appeared, serialised in the Daily Mail in 1938 under the title A Date with Death, Agatha Christie preceded it with an original piece on her relationship with her detective and how she came to create him. She also described Poirot’s key interests in this particular case: the “passion for truth” of the man who asked him to undertake the case; the technicality of the 24-hour limit; and the psychology of the motive, particularly “the strong malign personality of the dead woman”.

Twice as brilliant as Death on the Nile, which was entirely brilliant.
The Observer

It was published as a novel by Collins in May 1938 and would go on to be adapted several times. The first was in 1945 when Agatha Christie adapted it herself for stage. Christie kept the title, Appointment With Death, but removed the character of Poirot and changed the identity of the murderer.

In 1988 it was adapted into a film, starring Peter Ustinov as Poirot. Twenty years later it was adapted for TV with David Suchet playing Poirot, before being dramatised for BBC Radio 4 in 2006 starring John Moffatt as Poirot.

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