Thursday 23 September 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

The dentist was found with a blackened hole below his right temple. A pistol lay on the floor near his out-flung right hand. Later, one of his patients was found dead from a lethal dose of local anaesthetic. It's a clear case of murder and suicide. But why would a dentist commit a crime in the middle of a busy day of appointments? A shoe buckle holds the key to the mystery. Now, in the words of the rhyme, can Poirot pick up the sticks and lay them straight?

Another venture into the Christie-Poirot catalogue and one that I liked, but not as much as Death in the Clouds. I think my issue here is the sneaky way Christie/Poirot unmask the killer with a revelation of information which has been up until then withheld from the reader. I don't even think there were that many subtle hints prior to that, but hey maybe someone will tell me I'm wrong and what I missed. The mystery is quite complex and convoluted overall, but I kind of think the reveal annoyed more than enlightened me.

A dentist and another man are found dead. One murdered, one maybe suicide - but obviously not. Poirot does his thing, investigating everyone who was in the vicinity of the practice on that fateful day. Before the end there will be more death and a couple of shootings/attempted shootings.

The guilty could be employees of the dentist - present and absent, Poirot himself, a discontented (and feckless) youth, an important Government adviser and financier and a few others I have forgotten. We get into the realms of spies, agitators, missing women, relationships, a body in a trunk, interviews, misdirection and red herrings and eventually an outcome.

Overall more to like than dislike, but just bang average and I kind of felt a bit like I'd been mugged at the end.

3 from 5

My fifth Christie in the past couple of months following, Death in the Clouds, They Do It With Mirrors, The Pale Horse and Endless Night.       

Read - (listened to) September, 2021
Published - 1940
Page count - 257 (5 hrs 19 mins)
Source - Audible copy via Scribd
Format - Audible


  1. I can understand your feeling, Col. I'll agree that I didn't like this big reveal as much as I've liked some of her others. That said, I'm glad you found things to like, and I've always liked that look inside a dentist's office of the time. Quite different to what we do today in a lot of ways.

    1. Margot, no regrets as far as reading it, but I'm glad a connoisseur such as yourself agrees that it isn't a perfect book.