Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by…

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

by Agatha Christie, Charles Osborne (Adapter)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,072327,795 (3.24)40
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
Tags:contemporary mystery, 1990-2009, bookmooch, 96-100, borrowed from mareena

Work details

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



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 40 mentions

English (28)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Published as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe in England and The Patriotic Murders in the US, it turns out that I had never read this one, thinking it a Tuppence and Tommy mystery, not an Hercule Poirot mystery.

I had to remedy that at once, and finished it this morning. It is a classic Poirot although he never once mentions his little ‘grey cells’. Seemingly inconsistent pieces of evidence and seemingly inconsequential scraps of conversation lead Poirot on his merry way to solving a complex and surprising set of murders.

Some, but not all, of Christie’s mysteries have deeper themes than bringing a murderer to justice, and this book has one. However, even describing the theme would be a spoiler, so mum's the word.

I enjoyed this book. Most of Christie’s mysteries have typical British prejudices of the time and Dame Agatha was never hesitant to trot out stock characters and generalizations about their behavior. It doesn’t matter, though, because I realize she was a product of her times and glean the interesting, intelligent, and good out of her mysteries. Always excepting Tuppence and Tommy, of course. ( )
  karenmarie | Jan 14, 2017 |
This is a book adaptation of Agatha Christie’s homonymous play. But unfortunately Mr. Osborne is never able to emulate Mrs. Christie’s style. He sometimes gets really close, but falls back into descriptions she would have easily inserted in or in-between character speeches. There are many descriptive moments, such as this: “Richard moved to the phone, lifted the receiver and asked for the number.” Mrs. Christie, I believe, never describes unimportant actions in minutia. One thing surprised me though: her use of a ruse devised by the killer in her first Poirot book… A good read, nevertheless. I am considering reading the play. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
"‘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 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Osborne, CharlesAdaptermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Moffatt, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Hercule Poirot sat at breakfast in his small but agreeably cosy flat in Whitehall Mansions.
Last words
(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.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
27 avail.
17 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.24)
1 8
2 22
2.5 18
3 75
3.5 18
4 46
4.5 2
5 19

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,411,094 books! | Top bar: Always visible