Christie's most popular sleuth, the ever-dignified Hercule Poirot, has already decided to retire, but makes up his mind to take on 12 great cases--each somehow reflecting the labors accomplished by Hercules--as a farewell to crime solving. Unabridged.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
November 04, 2001
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Excerpt from The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
Chapter 1: The Nemean Lion
'Anything of interest this morning, Miss Lemon?' he asked as he entered the room the following morning.
He trusted Miss Lemon. She was a woman without imagination, but she had an instinct. Anything that she mentioned as worth consideration usually was worth consideration. She was a born secretary.
'Nothing much, M. Poirot. There is just one letter that I thought might interest you. I have put it on the top of the pile.'
'And what is that?' He took an interested step forward.
'It's from a man who wants you to investigate the disappearance of his wife's Pekinese dog.'
Poirot paused with his foot still in the air. He threw a glance of deep reproach at Miss Lemon. She did not notice it. She had begun to type. She typed with the speed and precision of a quick-firing tank.
Poirot was shaken; shaken and embittered. Miss Lemon, the efficient Miss Lemon, had let him down! A Pekinese dog. A Pekinese dog! And after the dream he had had last night. He had been leaving Buckingham Palace after being personally thanked when his valet had come in with his morning chocolate!
Words trembled on his lips-witty caustic words. He did not utter them because Miss Lemon, owing to the speed and efficiency of her typing, would not have heard them.
With a grunt of disgust he picked up the topmost letter from the little pile on the side of his desk.
Yes, it was exactly as Miss Lemon had said. A city address-a curt business-like unrefined demand. The subject-the kidnapping of a Pekinese dog. One of those bulging-eyed, overpampered pets of a rich woman. Hercule Poirot's lip curled as he read it.
Nothing unusual about this. Nothing out of the way or-But yes, yes, in one small detail, Miss Lemon was right. In one small detail there was something unusual.
Hercule Poirot sat down. He read the letter slowly and carefully. It was not the kind of case he wanted, it was not the kind of case he had promised himself. It was not in any sense an important case, it was supremely unimportant. It was not-and here was the crux of his objection-it was not a proper Labour of Hercules.
But unfortunately he was curious...
Yes, he was curious...
He raised his voice so as to be heard by Miss Lemon above the noise of her typing.
'Ring up this Sir Joseph Hoggin,' he ordered, 'and make an appointment for me to see him at his office as he suggests.'
As usual, Miss Lemon had been right.