Literature / The Murder on the Links

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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 Renauld is found stabbed to death in an open grave in the golf course he was constructing. Poirot, who had received a letter from Renauld shortly before his death, tries to trace the murderer. There are several suspects: the widow who inherits Renauld's entire estate, the son who had recently quarreled with his father, the woman who might have been Renauld's mistress... However, the pattern of events in the murder of Renauld bear strong similarities to a case that happened 20 years ago. Is the same mind at work behind both cases?

The story was adapted 1996 for the sixth series of Poirot. Tropes unique to the adaptation can be found there.


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

  • Accidental Murder: When Marthe Daubreuil attempts to murder Madame Renauld, Dulcie Duveen comes to the rescue, and accidentally kills Marthe during the ensuing struggle.
  • Asshole Victim: Downplayed. The narrative regards Paul Renauld's death as a well-served justice because he's an escaped convict, but the fact that he has a genuinely loving relationship with his family, and is liked well enough by his current employees, prevents him from being a completely unsympathetic character.
  • The Bet: Poirot and Giraud bet 500 francs on who will solve the case first.
  • 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 seems like a sweet, unassuming girl, but turned out to be a Gold Digger and a murderess.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Poirot has Madame Renauld pretend to disown her son, so that the true murderer would be forced to reveal themselves in their attempt to murder her.
  • Deep Sleep: In the novel, Jack collapsed into a feverish sleep due to the nervous breakdown of going through a gruelling arrest, which was followed by his mother publicly disowning him.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite Renauld's past as a criminal, he genuinely loves his wife, and left all his inheritance to her.
  • Faking the Dead: Invoked. Renauld wanted to fake his death so that he could escape from blackmail, but ended up getting killed for real.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Madame Beroldy was married to a much older gentleman, but was conducting two affairs with lawyer Georges Conneau and the wealthy Hiram Trapp. She arranges to have Conneau murder her husband, so that she could be free to marry Mr. Trapp. 20 years later, she encounters Georges Conneau, who has found success as Paul Renauld, and began blackmailing him.
    • Her daughter, Marthe Daubreuil, is much the same. She murders her lover's rich father, who did not approve of their relationship, and anticipates that said lover would then be free to marry her, and she'd become rich from his inheritance.
  • He Knows Too Much: Inverted. When he was being blackmailed, Paul Renauld plots to fake his own death, with the help of his wife, to escape his blackmailer. Of course, things goes wrong and he dies for real.
  • I Have No Son: Even after he is acquitted of his father's murder, Mrs Renauld still holds Jack responsible for Paul Renauld's death, and publicly denounces her son when he returns home. On Poirot's advice - so that the real murderer will be forced to reveal themselves.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Dulcie and Bella are identical twins, but everyone can tell them apart, though Hastings doesn't describe how they are distinguished from each other. On stage, however, one of them would wear a blonde wig to invoke a contrasting appearance.
  • In the Blood:
    • Marthe Daubreuil, daughter of Jeanne Beroldy grows up to become a ruthless, calculating and cold-hearted gold digger who fails to see the inherent wrongness of killing for money.
    • Jack Renauld also worries that being Georges Conneau's son might make him a murderer, and that no one would be willing to take him because of it. Poirot reassures him that he's also his mother's son, and Madame Renauld is a woman of great character.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Detective Giraud is someone Poirot describes as the human foxhound — he can sniff out "clues" and "evidence" but couldn't draw the correct conclusions/deductions based from it.
  • 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: Jeanne Beroldy, better known as Madame Daubreuil, is a cold-hearted manipulator who tricks one of her lovers to murder her husband so that she could marry a rich suitor. When the scheme was found out, she then manages to charm the entire jury to declare her as innocent, and she lives a peaceful and comfortable life afterwards. She then blackmails her former lover, who had changed his identity and became himself a rich man. She also allows her daughter to seduce the man's son, and is implied that she knew of her daughter's scheme to murder the man so that she can cash in on the son's inheritance. Once again, she escapes justice and disappeared before the police could arrest her.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Renauld was killed for his money, but due to his criminal past, Poirot sees his murder as karma finally catching up to him.
  • Love Martyr: Mrs Renauld knows all about her husband's shady past, and admits to his affair with Madame Daubreuil which is a lie, but is completely devoted to him, and shows genuine sorrow when he dies.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Dulcie Duveen introduces herself to Hastings as "Cinderella". He doesn't get to know her real name until very late in the books. in Curtain, Hastings' narrative reveals that 'Cinderella' was his lifelong pet name for his wife, using it to refer to her in his thoughts even after her death.
  • Out-Gambitted: Paul Renauld's plans to fake his death to escape Madame Daubreuil's blackmail are overheard by Marthe, who kills him for real during the night when he is trying to carry out his plan. She wants him dead so that she can get his money by marrying his son.
  • The Rival: Detective Giraud sees Poirot as an adversary and tries to one-up him at every opportunity. Poirot, on his part, sees Giraud as a nuisance who can't make proper deductions.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Jack Renauld looks so similar to his father that, when he first arrived at the crime scene, Hastings briefly thought that the deceased had come back to live.
  • Taking the Heat: Jack Renauld and Bella Duveen to each other. When the police arrests Jack for the murder of his father, he quietly accepts his fate in order to divert the suspicion from Bella, who possesses a knife identical to the murder weapon. Before he could be put on trial, Bella comes in to confess the crime, taking his place in custody.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": After receiving his 500 francs, Poirot bought himself a foxhound statuette, which he named "Giraud".
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