Dumb Witness

  • Hercule Poirot
  • Novel
  • 1937

An elderly spinster has been poisoned in her country home. Everyone blamed Emily’s accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thought about her fall, the more convinced she became that one of her relatives was trying to kill her. On April 17th she wrote her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously he didn’t receive the letter until June 28th… by which time Emily was already dead.

The dog hunts rabbits. Hercule Poirot hunts murderers.

Hercule Poirot, Dumb Witness

More about this story

Dumb Witness allowed Agatha Christie to indulge in her love of dogs. She had always had a dog since a young age and was incredibly fond of them, and Bob is directly inspired by her own pet. The book is actually dedicated to Agatha Christie's own wire-haired terrier Peter; "A dog in a thousand". This story also contains the penultimate appearance of Hastings, with several references to earlier cases including Murder on the Orient Express and Death in the Clouds.

It was first published in the UK in 1937, however in 2004 John Curran discovered an early version of the story titled The Incident of the Dog’s Ball which was published in his examination of her works, Murder in the Making.

In 1996 the story was adapted for TV and starred David Suchet alongside Hugh Fraser, the firmly established Hastings. The story was adapted for radio in 2007, featuring a full cast and John Moffatt reprising his role as Poirot. A graphic novel of the story was published in 2009.

Did you know?

  1. Dumb Witness was first published in the US as a Saturday Evening Post serial titled Poirot Loses a Client, and later in the UK as a serialisation named Mystery at Littlegreen House.

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