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Dumb Witness (aka Poirot Loses a Client) by…
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Dumb Witness (aka Poirot Loses a Client) (1937)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hercule Poirot Mystery (16), Hercule Poirot (16)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,345474,092 (3.68)83
Recently added bysheusser-ladwig, private library, scu83, mahult64, Centro_Croce, squibbs, ScorpioBookDreams, Verbatim
Legacy LibrariesCarl Sandburg
  1. 10
    How Does Your Garden Grow and Other Stories by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: How Does Your Garden Grow? is a short story written by Agatha Christie. Its plotline is nearly identical with that of Dumb Witness. Anyone who has enjoyed Dumb Witness may want to check this short story out.
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» See also 83 mentions

English (42)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
My spouse started making me watch old videos featuring Agatha Christie's Belgian (not French!) detective, Hercule Poirot. Then she began re-reading the books on which the videos were based. Since she reads this stuff in French translation, for some weird reason, I had to hunt up a proper version from the library. Fortunately, my library did have some copies. Dumb Witness, is of course a good choice because it has a nice dog in it. Dogs are great, just ask my Edamame.

So, anyway, we have a rich old lady, Emily Arundell, who dies fairly suddenly, only shortly after she had an "accident", in which she tumbled down a flight of stairs. The first explanation for the fall is that she tripped over the ball of Bob, the fox terrier, which was left at the top of the stairs. Only, Bob had been outside at the time. She has a number of relatives much in need of money, anyone of whom could have bumped her off. Then too, she had a spinster companion, Wilhelmina Lawson, who might have wanted a spot of money for herself so that she could become independent.

Anyway, Poirot is called in and eventually manages to unravel the problem and bring the miscreant to justice.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
In which a woman asks Poirot to save her life, and a dog is blamed for murder.

"Dumb Witness" is a book where I worry that my own childhood bias moves it up the list. In retrospect, the eponymous canine – Bob – is overdrawn, and everyone acts like children. The suspects are varied, but none of them are well characterised. Beyond this, the question of who wears a hulking great brooch to bed has always confused me. Still, I’m sticking with my ranking: it may not have much nuance in either the characters or the mystery, but I find "Dumb Witness" to be intriguing. Most importantly, Poirot genuinely fears for the safety of his client here, which is always a nice element of his characterisation. This was Hastings’ last appearance – outside of short story collections – until he returned for his swan song.

[In the US, the book's title was changed to Poirot Loses a Client; I imagine due to concerns over understanding of the meaning of the word "dumb"?]

Poirot ranking: 15th of 38 ( )
1 vote therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
A rich elderly woman suspects someone in her family is trying to kill her to get their inheritance a bit early. She writes to Hercule Poirot but due to the letter being mislaid it isn't delivered until a couple of months later — when Miss Emily Arundell has already died and left her considerable fortune to someone outside of the family. Though investigating a possible attempted murder seems moot to that doofus Hastings, given that the target has died of apparently natural causes in the meantime, Poirot persists. He learns that all of the family members (nieces, nephew and assorted spouses) are desperate for money, giving them all a capital (no pun intended) motive. But did any of them actually initiate a fatal action?

The "dumb witness" of the title is Bob, Miss Emily's intrepid wire terrier. He doesn't exactly solve the mystery but his actions and inactions are key to unraveling the case. I don't know much about Christie's personal life but I'm going to wager she was a dog lover, judging by the affectionate way she portrays Bob, even going so far as to give him actual dialogue. It's utterly charming and I'm glad Poirot was able to clear him of any wrongdoing in the case.

The more Poirot books I read the more I dislike the Hastings character. I realize he's there to provide a handy vehicle for Poirot to explain the clues and solution to the reader, but good grief no one can be that stupid and still be able to tie his shoes. Unlike Watson, who has his own charm separate from Sherlock Holmes, this sidekick has no redeeming characteristics that I can discern. I far prefer the Poirot cases where he is absent in Argentina or wherever, but even he can't keep this one from being a winner. ( )
1 vote rosalita | Jul 16, 2018 |
Poirot receives a two-month-old letter in the post. In her correspondence Emily Arundell tells Poirot of her uneasiness because she suspects that her recent fall down the stairs was not an accident at all but a deliberate attempt by someone in her family to kill her. Intrigued, Poirot and Hastings make their way to Market Basing, only to discover that Miss Arundell has been dead for nearly two months. Poirot smells a rat and begins to investigate.

A highly enjoyable and cleverly plotted whodunnit that manages to keep the perpetrator's identity concealed almost until the very end, and the ending, despite Poirot's legendary unveiling of the killer in the company of everyone assembled, is quite unusual. Agatha Christie never lets us forget that we're dealing with humans and their complicated emotions and to that end uses Poirot as the mouthpiece for those who can no longer speak for themselves to arrive at the truth. The only thing that grated a little was Hastings' putting words into the mouth of Bob the dog, but luckily those instances are rare. ( )
  passion4reading | Apr 29, 2018 |
Agatha, you've done it again. I was WAY off on this one. I guessed 3 times and was wrong for all of them. But not to worry, my friend Poirot was right on target, as usual. I feel a bit like Hastings, in the dark all of the time.

This one involves Poirot and Hastings coming to the case after the crime occurs. A letter delay, the criminal almost off without punishment, until Poirot catches the scent. And like the dog in the book, he doesn't let go.

Good plot (as usual) and some fun twists and turns. 3 stars. ( )
  GovMarley | Aug 6, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agatha Christieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piceni, EnricoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulianContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teason, WilliamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
TO DEAR PETER

Most faithful of friends
and dearest of companions,
a dog in a thousand
First words
Miss Arundell died on May 1st.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Two-month-old letter
hints at mystery. Poirot
makes enquiries.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425098540, Mass Market Paperback)

Miss Emily was old, rich, and afraid--and now, she's dead. Her terrified plea to Hercule Poirot came a little too late. All that's left is a house full of greedy heirs, and a very strange letter that could solve the mystery--or add to it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:59 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

As Hercule Poirot sifts through his post one particular morning, he alights upon a letter from an elderly and (as it transpires) exceedingly rich spinster--Miss Emily Arundell. She is clearly in great distress and seeking his help, but doesn't say why. Her only specific mention is "the incident of the dog's ball." However, what intrigues Poirot is the date of the communication--it was written two months ago. He persuades Captain Hastings that they must visit the lady with all haste. On arrival, they discover that she has died, apparently of natural causes. But Bob, Miss Arundell's devoted wire-haired terrier, knows better. And so, soon, does Poirot.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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