The Face of Helen

Short Story

First published: 1927

A Harley Quin story


The Face of Helen

Satterthwaite and Mr Quin witness a brutal fight outside an opera house - what could have caused such behaviour? From The Mysterious Mr Quin.

More about this story

After a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, Mr Quin and Mr Satterthwaite witness a fight outside the opera house – but what could have prompted such brutal behaviour? Mr Quin's appearance in the opera's interval suggest that forces of love and jealousy must be at work and someone is in danger.

Based on the character of Harlequin from the Italian Commedia dell'arte, Agatha Christie indulges in her fascination with the supernatural as well as her love of opera, which she shares with Mr Satterthwaite. In Pagliacci the clowns even perform a Harlequinade, and one of them, Beppe, impersonates Harlequin. The appropriateness of Quin’s choice of opera is not lost on Mr. Satterthwaite.

The story was first published in book form in the collection The Mysterious Mr Quin, published by Collins in 1930. The collection was dedicated to its eponymous hero and is the only book of Agatha Christie's to be dedicated to a fictional character. The story was abridged for BBC Radio 4 and performed by Martin Jarvis in 2010.

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