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Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by…
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Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) (original 1934; edition 1998)

by Agatha Christie, Charles Osborne (Adapter)

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1,001308,543 (3.22)39
Member:moonshineandrosefire
Title:Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
Authors:Agatha Christie
Other authors:Charles Osborne (Adapter)
Info:St. Martin's Minotaur (1998), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:contemporary mystery, 1990-2009, bookmooch, 96-100, borrowed from mareena

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Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie (1934)

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English (26)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
"‘George,’ he called, ‘please take my heavy tweed suit and my dinner jacket and trousers to the cleaners. I must have them back by Friday, as I am going to the Country for the Weekend.’ He made it sound like the Steppes of Central Asia and for a lifetime."
Tweed? No, I cannot....no to Poirot in tweeds.


I am all in favour of fan fiction, especially when it is done well. Unfortunately, Black Coffee fell flat on so many counts.
What is, in my opinion, even worse is that the book was authorised, even commissioned, by Christie's estate. Subsequently it was published as part of the official Agatha Christie catalogue. This is just plain wrong.

Christie did write the play Black Coffee in 1929 to experiment with play-writing herself after stage adaptations of her previous books failed to impress her. However, I guess she must have had her reasons for not developing this particular story into a full novel - although many, many elements in the story do appear in later stories.
Or maybe Charles Osborne would just regurgitate the tricks and techniques of Dame Agatha's better known works to cover his lack of imagination? After all, he did write the book some 20 years after Christie's death.

My dismay at Agatha Christie Ltd and the publishers for allowing this book to be published as part of the official series is not, however, solely because it is so obvious that it was a financial decision to milk the franchise.
I'm disliking that this book should be the best available work of fan fiction and should be worthy of publication - especially when readers may pick this up and actually think it was written by Christie.

The obvious lack in sincerity in Osborne's portrayal of the characters is downright upsetting. So, not only does he make Poirot wear tweeds, but he also turns him into something that he is not. For all of Poirot's eccentricities, the Poirot Christie had created may have had high standards but he has always had some empathy with other people.

"An inveterate snob, he was already predisposed in Sir Claud’s favour by virtue of his title. If he were to be found in Who’s Who, a volume in which the details of Poirot’s own career could also be discovered, then perhaps this Sir Claud was someone with a valid claim on his, Hercule Poirot’s, time and attention."

No. Just, no. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
The play Black Coffee apparently got a very unenthusiastic reception from Agatha Christie's publishers after she presented it to therm in 1928, but it was eventually staged in 1930. In 1931 it was filmed. The play was "novelised" by Charles Osborne as a novel in 1998.

Really what Osborne has done is convert the dialogue and stage directions into a narrative but for me it retained that play script feeling. The setting is May 1934 and Poirot is ostensibly retired. He is contacted by Sir Claud Amory, a famous atomic scientist, who asks Poirot to visit him at his country house as he believes a member of his household is attempting to steal the formula he has created for a new and deadly explosive. He then asks Poirot ot come a day earlier, but by the time Poirot gets there Amory is dead.

The astute reader knows from the moment it happens who is responsible for poisoning Sir Claud. I presume the theatre audience also knew, as they saw it happen. The suspense lies in the idea of whether Hercule Poirot will solve the puzzle.

I don't think that, in creating the 'novelisation' of the play that Charles Osborne would not have strayed very far from the original wording of either the dialogue or the stage directions of the original play. There is a feeling of looking at a stage set. The result is a rather peculiar flatness to the novel, both the plots and the characters lacking depth. It is an authentic Poirot and the plot contains similarities to other novels and stories.

For me perhaps the most useful part of the e-book version is the last 10% of the book which is devoted to a short summary of each of the original Poirot novels. ( )
  smik | Jun 11, 2016 |
The seventh work by Christie to feature retired Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was written as a play, after Christie had been dissatisfied with the dramatization of an earlier work and decided she would write a play herself. Some twenty years after her death, former actor Charles Osborne was hired by her heirs to novelize the work.

Hercule Poirot is asked to come to the country estate of Sir Claud Amory to unmask the traitor in his midst. Amory is a famous scientist and has been working on a formula for a new explosive for the government – a weapon that would change the course of war. He wants Poirot to come to his home, and take the formula to the Ministry of Defense. But mere minutes before Poirot’s arrival, Sir Claude is dead – was it a heart attack, or poison? And where is the missing formula?

Most of the elements of a classic Poirot “locked room” mystery are here: a country estate, a variety of characters / suspects, a mysterious secret (or two, or three), and Poirot’s amazing “little gray cells.” The dialogue is typical Christie, but the connective tissue of the novel lacks her sparkle. If anything it seems “over” dramatized.

Still, it’s a quick read, and moderately enjoyable. I didn’t figure it out much ahead of Poirot’s reveal (Poirot, of course, had it figured out long before I did).
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 14, 2016 |
Again, a nice murder mystery sprouted from Christie's imagination. However, one can tell that this one was particularly written as a theatre play, and only later transcribed into a novel.

3 stars is perhaps a bit on the low end for this little story, but it doesn't deserve 4 either, when you compare it to it's peers on the Poirot shelf. ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
This is a novel by Charles Osborne based on a play by Agatha Christie. I have not read the play, so I cannot judge how much of this is genuine Christie. The obvious assumption would be that the plot and the dialogue, at least, would be hers. ( )
  antiquary | Oct 19, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Osborne, CharlesAdaptermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Moffatt, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Hercule Poirot sat at breakfast in his small but agreeably cosy flat in Whitehall Mansions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Black Coffee was originally a play by Agatha Christie published in 1934 by A. Ashley and son. It was adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne, published 1998 by St. Martin Press. Please do not merge the two records.
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Book description
Black Coffee is an adaptation of an Agatha Christie play. It was written into novel form posthumously by Charles Osborne.

In the book, Sir Claud Amory, who has been working on an important scientific formula, suspects that one of his family members is trying to steal his formula. Poirot is called in to discover the suspected thief and instead finds himself investigating not only a theft but a murder...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312970072, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:07 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

An urgent call from physicist Sir Claud Amory sends famed detective Hercule Poirot rushing from London to a sprawling country estate. Sir Claud fears a member of his own household wants to steal a secret formula destined for the Ministry of Defense. But Poirot arrives too late. The formula is missing. Worse, Sir Claud has been poisoned by his after-dinner coffee. Poirot soon identifies a potent brew of despair, treachery, and deception amid the mansion's occupants. Now he must find the formula and the killer...while letting no poison slip 'twix his low lips.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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