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Detective novel by Agatha Christie, written in 1939.

It was adapted for ITV's Marple in 2008, with Miss Marple added to the plot and many changes to the story.


This work of fiction contains examples of:

  • A God Am I: Lord Whitfield eventually realizes that all the victims had wronged him in some way, and declares that God himself must be punishing anyone who dares to cross him. Luke is naturally unnerved by this and begins to suspecting him of simply killing them himself. This turns out to be the result the real murderer was hoping for.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • The story Honoria Waynflete tells where Lord Whitfield killed her pet bird for petty reasons. In reality, it was Honoria herself who killed it, and this is the real reason for their broken engagement.
    • Tommy is said to have killed small animals for fun, which is one of the reasons no one is really sorry he's dead.
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    • The murderer killed Doctor Humbleby by deliberately wounding a cat and letting the wound fester, then jabbing the doctor with needle covered in diseased pus.
  • The Bartender: Harry Carter, the first victim. He also drank some of his own stock and wasn't easy for his wife and daughter to live with.
  • Beta Couple: Dr. Thomas and Rose Humbley.
  • Disposable Fiancée: Lord Whitefield to Bridget.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Or rather voice of an angel for Tommy Pierce, the school bully and one of the victims.
  • Henpecked Husband: Major Horton was clearly one before his wife died, but doesn't seem to have minded.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Luke asks Honoria Waynflete for help as she seems a sharp old woman. Subverted in that she's the murderer.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: Major Horton and his wife had a relationship like that. The major himself is interestingly a breeder of dogs, but seems to very much be the submissive member of the couple and seems to genuinely miss his late wife when talking about her in terms that Luke think would have driven some spouses to murder.
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  • Motive Rant: The killer delivers a lengthy confession to Bridget as they're about to kill her, explaining their motives and how they committed all the murders. Judging by their enthusiasm, they've probably been waiting for this moment for a very long time. This also gives Luke enough time to save her.
  • Overprotective Dad: Murder victim Dr. Humbley quarreled with his younger partner Dr. Thomas over Thomas's relationship with Humbley's daughter.
  • Running Over the Plot: A variant. An old lady shares her fear of a murderer with a young man on the train. A few days later, the guy learns of her death in an automobile accident and investigates. It turns out that while the driver himself had nothing to do with the story, the murderess pushed the old lady in the way and gave the wrong licence number to frame another character.
  • Serial Killer: The novel has one of the highter body counts in Agatha Christie's novels. Five people are dead before the story even begins, followed by two more murders and an attempted third. While the motive turns out to be a convoluted revenge plot, Honoria also makes it clear that she enjoyed every second of killing all those people.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Mrs. Humbley whose been suspicious of the correct person for some time and reveals these suspicions at an ideal time to prevent the final murder.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The killer tries to drug Bridget in order to murder her, but she sees through it. Instead she plays along and pretends to drink, hoping that the killer will keep their guard down.
  • Woman Scorned: This turns out to be the motive. Honoria Waynflete still hasn't forgiven Whitfield for breaking up with her, and all the murders are part of a spectacular revenge plot to get him hanged.


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