Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie


Published in 1937, this is one of the lesser-known Poirot novels, but don’t let that put you off. It is a corker! A traditional murder mystery set in a quaint, country village, it has a really lovely feel to it. This time Poirot is joined by his side-kick and companion, Captain Hastings, who, I feel, always adds flavour to any of the Poirot novels, often acting on a similar wavelength to myself during the book – slow off the mark. πŸ™‚

The set-up is familiar, but not identical, to previous stories – a rich, old spinster, Emily Arundell, who is sitting on a fortune, finds herself involved in a near-tragic accident involving a flight of stairs and her pet dog’s toy ball. When she begins to suspect that it was not an accident, but, in fact, that one of her relatives is trying to kill her, she writes to Poirot for assistance. Sadly, Poirot arrives too late – with the letter arriving over two months after Emily wrote it, she has sadly met her demise. Poirot then endeavours to find out what on earth happened as something just does not add up.

I found the amount of characters to be manageable and well-rounded – there is nothing worse than having too many to keep track of. Although childless, Emily Arundell has a plethora of family members, who are keen to get their mitts on her cash! Amongst the suspects, there is a cocky, good-looking nephew, and two money-grabbing nieces – one fashionable and attractive, the other plain and often over-looked. Interestingly, there is also Emily’s faithful companion, Minnie Lawson, the sole heiress of the Arundell estate, much to the others’ annoyance, who dabbles in messages from the beyond the grave with her two friends, the Tripp sisters – the latter are both entertaining and add a little light relief to the proceedings too.

One of the loveliest and most unexpected parts of the story is Agatha Christie’s inclusion of the main protagonist’s pet, Bob – a fox terrier. He ‘talks’ intermittently throughout, bonding beautifully with Hastings, and gives the story an extra element not found in other Christie novels I have previously read. Adorable and sweet, you end up desperately wondering what will happen to Emily’s faithful friend at the end of the novel, just as much as wanting to know who the murderer is.

The mystery kept me guessing throughout, and I changed my mind as to who the killer was on numerous occasions. Christie directs your attention to so many different things, with all characters ending up looking suspicious – at one point even I questioned Bob the dog! (How could I?!) Whilst I did not guess the murderer correctly, I had a great time trying to figure out the mystery.

This stands in good stead next to some of Christie’s well-known titles – don’t overlook Dumb Witness, a classic in its own right!

Find out more about Dumb Witness on the Official Agatha Christie website.

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