Literature / The Murder on the Links

Only the second of Agatha Christie's novels to feature Hercule Poirot, The Murder on the Links was first published in 1923. Millionaire businessman Paul Renaud is found stabbed to death in an open grave in the golf course he was constructing. Poirot, who had received a letter from Renaud shortly before his death, tries to trace the murderer. There are several suspects: the widow who inherits Renaud's entire estate, the son who had recently quarreled with his father, the woman who might have been Renaud's mistress... However, the pattern of events in the murder of Renaud bear strong similarities to a case that happened 20 years ago. Is the same mind at work behind both cases?

The Murder on the Links provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed; Jack Renauld is less sympathetic in the David Suchet version, and Poirot deems that he does not deserve Bella.
  • Asshole Victim: Turns out Paul Renaud was the murderer of Madame Daubreuil's former husband.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Sweet Girl Next Door Marthe seems like an obvious Betty, while vaudeville performer Bella is the Veronica. Until Bella pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and tries to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save Jack, while Marthe turns out to be the murderer.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Marthe.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Poirot orchestrates this with the help of Madame Renaud.
  • Composite Character: Dulcie is omitted in the David Suchet adaptation, and Bella replaces her as Hastings' future wife.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Hastings' marriage at the end of the story is reminiscent of Watson's in The Sign of the Four.
  • Faking the Dead: Paul Renaud tried this, but was Killed Off for Real in the process.
  • Gold Digger: Marthe Daubreuil.
  • In the Blood: Marthe Daubreuil, daughter of an infamous murderess, becomes a gold-digger and murderess herself. Jack Renaud is afraid this will be true for him as well, as the son of a murderer. Poirot assures him that in addition to being his father's son, he's also his mother's, and his mother is a courageous and loving woman.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Giraud is a parody of the type.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Bella finds out about Marthe, she's willing to let Jack go so that he can be with the woman he actually loves. She even falsely confesses to murder in order to protect him, even knowing he wanted to marry someone else.
  • Karma Houdini: Averted, even though it took a long time for some of the characters to get their just desserts.
    • Played straight by Madam Daubreuil, who was definitely in on her daughter's plans but escaped justice in the end. And yet subverted in the TV adaptation, when she herself gets arrested for her daughter's death.
  • Love Martyr: Bella Duveen to Jack. She even attempts a Heroic Sacrifice. In the book, Jack returns the favor by proving himself willing to die to protect her as well.