Hercules Poirot was featured in 33 published novels, 51 published short stories, and a stage play. But there were two Poirot Short stories that were not published during her lifetime. They appeared in book form in Agatha Christie’ s Secret Notebook by John Curran. However, the Christie estate decided to make the two short stories available seperate audiobook read by David Suchet.
The title of one story will be familiar to Christie fans, it’s called “The Capture of Cerberus,” which is the title of the published story that wrapped up, The Labours of Hercules. This particular story is vastly different as Poirot’s labour is truly Herculean as he tries to uncover the truth behind the assassination of a lightly fictionalized version of Adolf Hitler.
The story was interesting for its historical value. It also provided Christie’s answer to a question many science fiction authors have addressed, “What if Hitler had been assassinated.” Christie suggests that Hitler would have been viewed as a martyr and would have radicalized and galvanized the German people. The story is hopeful that after the horrors of World War I, another conflagration could be avoided and peace and brotherhood could somehow win out.
It was a nice thought, but the story was shelved with good reasons. To have a fictional character “use the little gray cells” and prevent a real life war that’s certainly inevitable in the real world is just not appropriate. In addition, the story is definitely not as fun as the version that went into the book. It should be noted that Christie would feature two of the characters who were in this story in the published version. It felt like it was in more of a draft state when compared to the stories that did make into Labours of Hercules. Thankfully, it was discarded for a much better story.
“The Incident of the Dog’s Ball” was much more satisfying. In it Poirot receives a rambling letter from an old woman asking for help. He arrives at the lady’s house, only to find out she’d passed on (apparently of natural causes) and had forgotten to mail it. Slowly and methodically, Poirot begins to uncover what really happened and why the lady contacted.
Later, the short story was expanded and revised into the novel, Dumb Witness, but works just fine as a very satisfying short story.
David Suchet’s definitive Poirot voice truly makes the story a delight. He also read nearly all the voices well (with one exception). Suchet’s reading and the novelty of these lost stories makes this collection a must for fans of Christie and Hercule Poirot.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0
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