The dentist was found with a blackened hole below his right temple. A pistol lay on the floor near his outflung right hand. Later, one of his patients was found dead from a lethal dose of local anaesthetic. A clear case of murder and suicide. But why would a dentist commit a crime in the middle of a busy day of appointments?A shoe buckle holds the key to the mystery. Now-in the words of the rhyme-can Poirot pick up the sticks and lay them straight?
The Secret of Chimneys (1925), Christie's third novel, comes from the period when romance was almost as important to her as crime. Each of the guests at Chimneys, a country estate, is suspected of the murder of a foreign nobleman. Two of the accused, a young widowed aristocrat and a young man of seemingly dubious background, find themselves falling in love as they join forces to solve the case. Blackmail, a politician's memoirs, and a notorious thief, are mixed expertly into the highly entertaining plot. A French detective and a no-nonsense English cop seem to be prototypes for Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp, who look into the puzzling death of Hercule's dentist in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, from 1940. Hercule must solve the crime while preventing further deaths, with prominent financier Alistair Blunt a much-threatened target. As wonderful as Hugh Fraser is as Captain Hastings in the television adaptations of the Poirot tales, he is even better as the reader of both novels. Highly recommended for popular collections.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 23, 2004
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Excerpt from One, Two, Buckle my Shoe by Agatha Christie
Buckle my Shoe
Mr Morley was not in the best of tempers at breakfast. He complained of the bacon, wondered why the coffee had to have the appearance of liquid mud, and remarked that breakfast cereals were each one worse than the last.
Mr Morley was a small man with a decided jaw and a pugnacious chin. His sister, who kept house for him, was a large woman rather like a female grenadier. She eyed her brother thoughtfully and asked whether the bath water had been cold again.
Rather grudgingly, Mr Morley said it had not.
He glanced at the paper and remarked that the Government seemed to be passing from a state of incompetence to one of positive imbecility!
Miss Morley said in a deep bass voice that it was Disgraceful!
As a mere woman she had always found whatever Government happened to be in power distinctly useful. She urged her brother on to explain why the Government's present policy was inconclusive, idiotic, imbecile and frankly suicidal!
When Mr Morley had expressed himself fully on these points, he had a second cup of the despised coffee and unburdened himself of his true grievance.
'These girls,' he said, 'are all the same! Unreliable, self-centred-not to be depended on in any way.'
Miss Morley said interrogatively:
'I've just had the message. Her aunt's had a stroke and she's had to go down to Somerset.'
Miss Morley said:
'Very trying, dear, but after all hardly the girl's fault.'
Mr Morley shook his head gloomily.
'How do I know the aunt has had a stroke? How do I know the whole thing hasn't been arranged between the girl and that very unsuitable young fellow she goes about with? That young man is a wrong 'un if I ever saw one! They've probably planned some outing together for today.'
'Oh, no, dear, I don't think Gladys would do a thing like that. You know, you've always found her very conscientious.'
'An intelligent girl and really keen on her work, you said.'
'Yes, yes, Georgina, but that was before this undesirable young man came along. She's been quite different lately-quite different-absent-minded-upset-nervy.'
The Grenadier produced a deep sigh. She said:
'After all, Henry, girls do fall in love. It can't be helped.'