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Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
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Mr Shaitana is famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he is a man of whom everybody is a little afraid. So, when he boasts to Poirot that he considers murder an art form, the detective has some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana's private collection. Indeed, what begins as an absorbing evening of bridge is to turn into a more dangerous game altogether...… (more)
Member:evareads
Title:Cards on the Table
Authors:Agatha Christie
Info:Fontana (1976), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:crime

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Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

  1. 20
    Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: Hercule Poirot with Mrs. Oliver once again after Cards on the Table. This is reason enough for anyone who has enjoyed their first outing together to read this book.
  2. 00
    The Mary Wesmacott Collection by Mary Westmacott (iz)
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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
One of Mrs Christie’s best Poirot stories. One doesn’t find out who did it until the very last few pages. ( )
  krgulick | Jun 19, 2019 |
Summary: Mr. Shaitana, who throws great parties, but seems to be feared by many, throws a party for the entertainment of Poirot, with four guests who he claims have gotten away with murder, and ends up murdered himself, but with no clue as to who the murderer was.

Mr. Shaitana was an enticing host of great dinner parties. Yet people feared him. "Mephistophelian" is a word that describes him, after the elegant demon who deceived Faust. A seemingly chance meeting with Hercule Poirot leads to a boast of knowing murderers who had gotten away with their crimes and what proves an unwise idea of hosting a party at which Poirot, Scotland Yard Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race, and Ariadne Oliver, a crime novelist are invited to join four guests presumably guilty of murder. The four other guests are Dr. Roberts, daring in bridge and perhaps in life, Mrs. Lorrimer, an intelligent and proper widow, Major Despard, an adventurer, and young and seemingly vulnerable Anne Meredith.

After dinner the four guests adjourn to play bridge. The four sleuths play in one room. The four "murderers" play in the other. Shaitana joins them by the fire. At the conclusion of play Shaitana appears asleep, but has been stabbed in the heart with a sharp implement from his collection. No one but the four bridge players, the four who had gotten away with murderer had been in the room. None says they saw anything amiss.

And so begins the sleuthing. Interviews with each of the guests. An investigation to learn if they could have committed a previous murder they would cover up. Battle, shrewd but stolid pursue conventional police methods. Race pursues inquiries on Major Despard. Mrs. Oliver focuses on young Anne and her roommate Rhoda Dawes. Poirot focuses on the bridge scores and what each remembers of the play, and the details of the room. Each has been connected with a murder. Things get more exciting yet with one more murder and another murder attempt. When we think the murderer of Shaitana is arrested, there is one more twist before the real murderer is exposed. In the end, the scores and play at bridge yield the critical clue.

Many consider this among Christie's best novels. She pokes fun at herself in the character of novelist Ariadne Oliver.

" 'I can always think of things,' said Mrs. Oliver happily. 'What is so tiring is writing them down. I always think I've finished, and then when I count up I find I've written only thirty thousand words instead of sixty thousand, and so then, I have to throw in another murder and get the heroine kidnapped again. It's all very boring.' "

It is enjoyable to see the character and interactions of the sleuths, the subtlety of the clues, and the surprise at the end when we think we have the murderer, caught in the act of attempted murder. This is a great summer read, or for any time one needs an engaging diversion. ( )
  BobonBooks | Jun 10, 2019 |
In one room: Poirot and his friends play bridge. In the other: Mr. Shaitana and his exhibits play murder.

"Cards on the Table" sees Christie at the height of her powers, and also at her most self-referential. A hedonistic collector invites four detectives – Poirot,and three of her recurring sleuths, Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, Mrs. Oliver – to play bridge with four criminals. When their host is, inevitably, murdered, it becomes clear that the four are suspects and, as Christie notes in her introduction, this is no trick: there are four suspects only. Logic and reason will see us to the conclusion. (Well, that and a damn good knowledge of bridge.)

This was the introduction into Poirot's world of Ariadne Oliver, Christie’s surrogate character in the canon, and one of her most delightful portrayals. Already bitter about her recurring Finnish detective and his silly quirks, Oliver gets to waffle on at length about detective fiction without ever feeling like she’s hammering home a point. All four detectives are permitted some investigation, which allows Poirot to function as a vital part of the novel, rather than a God. (This is not inherently a flaw but it’s nice to see him rubbing up against other people’s deductive techniques.) The victim is fascinating, the suspects equally so, and – with their backgrounds as alleged killers – the contrivances never feel like anything less than a natural part of the plot. (*coughCat Among the Pigeonscough*)

The David Suchet adaptation – which introduced Zoe Wanamaker as Oliver – took countless liberties with the plot, none of which were necessary but none were disastrous, but was delightful and atmospheric: how can you go wrong with a story such as this? There are no flaws in the story or in the construction, but interestingly this is Christie at her most Conan Doyle-esque. For those of us who aren’t familiar with bridge, the lengthy examinations of the score card are slightly bewildering, but this kind of long-form thinking – not just figuring out that the initials on a handkerchief are in a different language, for instance – comes across as real deductive thinking, the kind of powers that Poirot has always professed separate him from the lower forms of investigators.

Poirot ranking: 4th out of 38 ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
I was in the mood to read some Agatha Christie after watching Murder on the Orient Express so I randomly picked this one.
It was awesome that there were only 4 suspects so I was able to follow the line without any confusion and one thing that amazed me was the backstories and character traits Agatha built for each character. I got so into it, I felt like they were real people.
( )
  Denicbt | Feb 5, 2018 |
Hercule Poirot is invited to a dinner party by a man who mysteriously says he collects murderers. At the party are seven other guests: in addition to Police Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race, and author of mysteries Ariadne Oliver, who along with Poirot could be considered the "predators", there is the collection of alleged murderers: two men and two women, all strangers to one another. An after-dinner bridge game turns deadly, and it's up to the predators to flush out the guilty party before they kill again ...

Another intricately plotted mystery from Dame Agatha, from the ingenious setup to the final twist at the denouement. All four of the suspects seem likely, and they all hide secrets in their past that give them plenty of motive for the current crime. Christie clearly intended Ariadne to be a spoof of herself, and she gives her some really choice lines about the similarity of murder plots in books and the dullness of making sure that every little detail is correct.

From start to finish, this is a fun guess-along for the reader, with plenty of humor. I especially liked this passage, from Poirot's first meeting with Mr. Shaitana, his soon-to-be ill-fated host:
"While the Lovely Young Thing made a suitable reply, Poirot allowed himself a good study of the hirsute adornment on Mr. Shaitana's upper lip.
A fine moustache — a very fine moustache — the only moustache in London, perhaps, that could compete with that of M. Hercule Poirot.
"But is is not so luxuriant," he murmured to himself. "No, decidedly it is inferior in every respect.
Tout de même, it catches the eye." ( )
  rosalita | Jan 29, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agatha Christieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbs, ChristopherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moffatt, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suomalainen, AuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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'My dear M. Poirot!'
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“Permit me to tell you, madame, that you are a most remarkable woman. All my homage and respect. Yes, indeed, a woman in a thousand. Why, you have not even done what nine hundred and ninety-nine women out of a thousand could not have resisted doing.”
“What is that?”
“Told me just why you killed your husband—and how entirely justified such a proceeding really was.”
Mrs. Lorrimer drew herself up.
“Really, M. Poirot,” she said stiffly. “My reasons were entirely my own business.”
“Magnifique!” said Poirot, and, once more raising her hand to his lips, he left the room.
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De geheimzinnige mijnheer Shaitana "verzamelt" niet-ontdekte moordenaars. Een gevaarlijke hobby, die hem zijn leven kost. Poirot moet uit deze "verzameling" degene zoeken die Shaitana doodgestoken heeft. Hoewel hij uit de manier waarop de verdachten bridge spelen heel wat kan opmaken over hun karakter, blijft het een bijzonder ingewikkelde zaak.
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   It was the match-up of the century: four sleuths - Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard. Mrs Ariadne Oliver, famed writer of detective stories; Colonel Race of His Majesty's Secret Service, and the incomparable Hercule Poirot - invited to play bridge with four specially invited guests, each of whom had gotten away with murder! 
   For the host, the mysterious Mr Shaitana, it was to be a clever entertainment. But before the first rubber was completed, the host himself was dead.
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   Poirot went over to the bridge table. Without touching anything he examined the scores. He shook his head once or twice.
   "The stupid little man! Oh, the stupid little man," murmured Hercule Poirot. "The dress up as the devil and try to frighten people. Quel enfantillage!"
   The door opened. the divisional surgeon came in, bag in hand; he was followed by the divisional inspector talking to Battle. A camera man came next. there was a constable in the h all.
   The routine of the detection of crime had begun ...
Haiku summary
killed in plain sight
cards bridge to deadly suspects
someone over bid
(hardboiled)

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