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Literature / Mrs. McGinty's Dead

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Mrs McGinty's Dead is a 1952 mystery novel by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot decides to take on the murder case of an old charwoman, Mrs McGinty, as a favor to his friend Superintendent Spence, who is not convinced that the person accused, James Bentley, is guilty of the crime.

Poirot decides to investigate in the village of Broadhinny, where Mrs McGinty and James Bentley lived, and in doing so, he stumbles across an old newspaper. Said newspaper contains photos of four people with criminal pasts, and these photos may prove instrumental in solving the crime...


Mrs McGinty's Dead provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Decay: Ariadne Oliver works on a theatre adaptation of her book, and complains that the characters are completely changed. Ironically, in real life, Agatha Christie's main complaint about early stage adaptations of her plays was that they stuck too closely to the books, as she felt that a murder mystery should surprise people.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Major Summerhayes is a good person, but flips out when Poirot insinuates that Mrs Summerhayes committed the crimes.
  • Batman Gambit: Poirot pulls one against Robin Upward to trick him into letting his guard down, by insinuating that Mrs Summerhayes committed the crimes, as Robin had planned.
  • Call-Forward: Mrs Summerhayes is the god-mother of Julia Upjohn, a character in the next Poirot mystery to be published, Cat Among the Pigeons.
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  • Creator Backlash: In-universe, Ariadne Oliver gets angry when talking about her own character, a Finnish detective with a bizarre quirk (he grates his vegetables before eating them). She also slams one of her novels, Death of a Débutante as "frightful tripe".
  • The Eeyore: James Bentley, who has a tendency to be constantly depressed about his situation. It pisses the people trying to help him off to no end.
  • Frame-Up: The killer planted evidence that Bentley was responsible for the murder of Mrs McGinty, by staging a burglary and hiding the money where it could be found.
  • It's All About Me: Eva seems honestly flabbergasted that buying her way out of trouble won't work, and that the word of her servants might be held in equal regard to hers by a jury.
  • Revealing Cover Up:
    • Robin Upward tries to frame Mrs Summerhayes by planting a photo of Eva Kane among her belongings. However, Poirot had searched the desk it was kept in earlier and had not found the photo, so he knew it was planted.
    • Similar to the above, Robin plants blatant evidence to suggest that the murder of Mrs Upward was committed by a woman. Poirot figures out that a man committed the crime because of this.
  • Matricide: In a variation, Robin is revealed to have killed his adoptive mother, Mrs Upward.
  • Title Drop: The titular phrase is mentioned as part of an Ironic Nursery Rhyme at different points throughout the novel.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The killer, aka Robin has one when he thinks Poirot is about to attack him with a sugar hammer.