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Subtitled A Hercule Poirot Novel, Black Coffee is actually an Agatha Christie play recrafted as a book meant to be read rather than seen on the stage. The story was first produced in 1930, and Charles Osborne has done little to it except string the dialogue and stage directions together in paragraph form. Christie loyalists will welcome and applaud his dedication to the original, but it does seem as though he could have given it a bit more flair. Still, Poirot himself, bumbling Captain Hastings, and obsequious George are all in good form and it is amusing to find them engaged in another adventure, with an interesting assortment of possible murderers, blackmailers, and innocent (if suspicious) bystanders.
The novel opens as Poirot receives a summons at his breakfast table from England's premier physicist, Sir Claud Amory. Busy working on a new formula necessary for England's defense in the Second World War, Amory suspects a member of his household of espionage. Of course, by the time Poirot and sidekick Hastings arrive at the scientist's country house, he is suddenly and mysteriously dead. Amory himself turns out to have been not quite nice, and his family, regardless of his scientific efforts, is pretty pleased with the new state of affairs. Still, Poirot manages both to save the more amiable members of the household from themselves and to protect the secrets of the British Empire. The novel is warmly evocative of another time and place and a welcome reminder of vintage Christie. --K.A. Crouch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Christie biographer Osborne's adaptation of the grande dame's 1930 play has been blessed by the Christie estate and heartily endorsed by her grandson Michael Prichard. It's a classic "someone in this room is the murderer" tale set in 1934. Scientist Sir Claud Amory invites Hercule Poirot to his estate to collect a formula for a new atomic explosive. Prior to Poirot's arrival, Sir Claud discovers the formula is missing from his safe. He offers the thief one minute of darkness to return it but, when the lights come on again, Sir Claud is dead. That's when Poirot arrives on the scene and takes matters in hand. An empty vial of sleeping pills is discovered, and someone in the room at the time of Sir Claud's death was seen with the tablets. Was Sir Claud murdered by his son Richard, who is in deep debt? Or was it espionage involving Lucia, Richard's Italian wife with a mysterious past and a connection to guest Dr. Carelli? Perhaps Sir Claud's secretary, Edward Raynor, or the spinster sister Caroline is guilty. Poirot, with "methods very much his own," aided by Captain Hastings, is lively and stimulating, like a fine black coffee, in this welcome addition to the Christie canon.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Charles Osborne writes the novel "Black Coffee" as an adaptation of Agatha Christie's original play. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by Karen Potts
This book failed in many areas. There was no plot, no suprise ending, no engaging characters. But to explain subsquent terms, the book lacks developement. Read morePublished on March 13 2002
Well, Osborne broke the fundamental, essential rule of mystery writing. Never give away the murderer, at least so early into the story.
It's astounding. Read more
The mystery was excellent, a classic Agatha Christie plot. A mystery where even the least likely person is suspicious and you really don't have ANY idea whom to suspect. Read morePublished on July 19 2001
Many of the other reviews already said it, what a waste. They should have kept it a play. After all, I've read "The Mousetrap" and "Witness for the Prosecution"... Read morePublished on May 17 2001 by Kindle Customer
...This is a novelization of play by Agatha Christie. And like many novelizations of both plays and screenplays it reads too much like the author took the stage directions and just... Read morePublished on April 2 2001 by Old Fisherman
This book wasn't bad at all but it has a lot of dialogue and is set in one room. The plot is very interesting and the murderer is very clever but not as clever as poirot. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2000