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Three Act Tragedy: A Hercule Poirot Mystery Paperback – Jun 14 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 14 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062073834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062073839
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #168,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“There has never been, and probably never will be, a P.I. more fun to observe and listen to, than Hercule Poirot.” (Joseph Wambaugh, New York Times bestselling author)

“Makes uncommonly good reading.” (New York Times)

“Mrs. Christie at the top of her form.” (Dorothy L. Sayers, Sunday Times (London))

From the Back Cover

Sir Charles Cartwright should have known better than to allow thirteen guests to sit down for dinner. For at the end of the evening one of them is dead—choked by a cocktail that contained no trace of poison.

Predictable, says Hercule Poirot, the great detective. But entirely unpredictable is that he can find absolutely no motive for murder.…

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Call me daft, but i really really like this Christie novel.
The characters are great (especially the sublime Mr Satterthwaite, and the wonderfully entertaining Hermoine "Egg" Lytton Gore). Really entertaining, and great to read about. As with many of the best Poirot novels, Poirot himself does not really take a large role until quite a way into the book ("Appointment With Death" "Cat and Among the Pigeons", for example.)
The plot is great, and the motive for the first motive is just sheer originality. (Even though it, and the motives for the other murders, is just a tiny weeny bit thin).
It's a pretty light Christie book, but with a brilliant first death and motive for it. And a great, rather unexpected solution. It may not be her very very best novel, but it is still one of the great ones.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
you might want to skip over this unless you are determined to read them all. This is one of her lesser efforts that only make the rest of her work so much better.
The story is cleverly arranged into "Acts", a reflection of the main character, Sir Charles Cartwright, a famous stage actor who is now retired. Sir Charles hosts a dinner party which includes many who have connections with the stage: Angela Sutcliffe, actress; Miss Willis, playwright; Capt. Darce and his wife, who run a theatrical dressmaking business; and Mr. Satterthwaite, wealthy patron of the arts (featured in the short story collection THE MYSTERIOUS MR. QUIN). Rounding out the party are Dr. Strange, a specialist in nervous disorder and a college friend; the local vicar and his wife; Lady Mary Lytton Gore and her daughter Hermione, Mr. Oliver Manders and Hercule Poirot.
The party proceeds predictably until a murder takes place (or maybe just proceeds predictably). End of Act I, Act II weeks later another dinner party takes place miles aways, many, although not all, of the same guests are present and another murder takes place. Act III, Poirot and others involved in the tragedies investigate the crimes and of course, Poirot solves the crime.
The characters of Mr. Satterthwaite and Hermione are delightful and well written and Poirot is his usual eccentric self. Unfortunately the rest of the characters are down right boring and totally forgetable. The plot itself is far better than the characters. The crimes are cleverly done, there is the usual Christie twist at the end but even that cannot raise this beyond a passable rating. This mystery is suitable for long, boring plane rides or similar periods of prolonged entrapment only.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In murders, nothing should be taken for granted. Especially Agatha Christie's. In several of her novels, she had the investigators looking into a murder that did not exist, a person that did not exist, a motive that did not exist and many other red herrings.
Hence, when the good Rev Stephen Babbington died during a party thrown by retired actor Sir Charles Cartwright, none of the guests present appeared to be who they were supposed to be. There was no motive, nothing was left to show the death was a criminal act.
Some time later, Dr Strange who was also a guest at the party died, this time, the nicotine poisoning was clear.
Told primarily from the perspective of Sir Charles Cartwright, his friend Mr Satterwaithte, and modern girl "Egg" Hermione Lytton Gore, Hercule Poirot took the passive role most of the story. The other three went about gathering clues, examining scenes of the crime and interviewing the usual suspects.
The only problem with such an approach could be revealed by one of Christie's favourite dogma : people do not tell what they saw or heard, they tell what they thought they saw or heard.
In many instances, it was merely written Sir Charles, Mr Satterwaithe and Egg reported what had happened to Poirot rather than describing the words they used to convey the information to Poirot. Therein lies one of the weakness of this book.
A second weakness of the book was some of the offstage investigation work done by Poirot was not revealed to the readers. In stories where the clues for opportunities and accessories were (subtly) evident, motive was not as vital for the readers to correctly guess the solution. However, this story was weak in all but the opportunities department. Only the camouflaged opportunities was masterfully done by Christie for both deaths, requiring people to consider things in the opposite of the conventional direction.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Agatha Christie's occasional flaws is that her desire to bamboozle the reader leads her to discard probability and possibility, to neglect the human side of the equation, and to produce a solution, which, although surprising, is nevertheless unconvincing. Three Act-Tragedy (1935) and Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) are examples of this-a pity because both books have interesting personages, well-drawn depictions of a particular society (here the demi-monde; an archaeological dig in the other), and a particular tone (light and amusing in the style of Anthony Berkeley in the one; in the other, an ominous atmosphere quite unlike anything else Agatha Christie ever wrote). But the solutions to both are wholly incredible: the reader of Murder in Mesopotamia is expected to believe that a highly observant and intelligent woman is utterly blind to the disguise adopted by her murderer; while Three-Act Tragedy offers an utterly murderer who commits three crimes, two of which are wholly superfluous, tripling the risk of detection to no benefit.
The impossible murders themselves are by nicotine, "an odourless liquid, ...[of which] a few drops are enough to kill a man almost instantaneously", and which can be derived from rose-spraying liquid and from ordinary tobacco. The first victim is a particularly mild and benevolent parson, who is killed at a party given by the actor Sir Charles Cartwright (who suspects murder). The guests include the impoverished Lady Mary Lytton Gore and her daughter 'Egg', née Hermione; the actress Angela Sutcliffe, Sir Charles' former lover; the dress-maker Cynthia Dacres (with whose salon L.W.T.
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