While at an art gallery opening Hercule Poirot makes the aquaintance of Mr. Shaitana, an eccentric collector of art and curiosities. Among his curiosities Mr. Shaitana includes a few murderers who have managed not to be caught, or even be seriously under suspicion. Shaitana decides that he would like to have a dinner party to show off his collection and to that end, he invites four murderers and four detectives. During the dinner he drops a few not so subtle hints about what he knows and sits back to watch the 'fun'. The fun takes an unexpected turn during the after dinner bridge games, the host is murdered.
The detectives on the case are Poirot, Col. Race from the Foreign Office, Sgt. Battle (THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS and THE SEVEN DIALS MYSTERY) and Ariadne Oliver, mystery writer (DEAD MAN'S FOLLY and THE PALE HORSE). The murderers include Dr. Roberts, who may have killed a patient; Col. Despard, who may have killed the husband of the woman he loved; Mrs. Lorrimar, whose husband died under 'usual circumstances' and Miss Meredith whose former employer died of an accidental poisoning.
The detectives decide to try to uncover the murderer themselves, each has their own ideas about who did it and why and each goes about the investigation in their own way. The plot takes many interesting twists and turns. Just when it appears that all has been revealed Christie gives one of her characteristic twists .
The main reason that I feel that this is a four, not a five star novel is the emphasis placed on the bridge game. As a non-bridge player I felt that there was a vital clue that I was missing even though it was right there in front of me. In fairness it is possible to solve the crime without the bridge game clues but it was still frustrating while reading the story.