Cards on the Table

  •  Hercule Poirot & Ariadne Oliver
  • Novel
  • 1936

A flamboyant party host is murdered in full view of a roomful of bridge players… Mr Shaitana was famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he was a man of whom everybody was a little afraid. So, when he boasted to Poirot that he considered murder an art form, the detective had some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana’s private collection. Indeed, what began as an absorbing evening of bridge was to turn into a more dangerous game altogether…

Speech is the deadliest of revealers.

Hercule Poirot, Cards on the Table

More about this story

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 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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