A murder trial takes a diabolical turn when the wife of the accused takes the stand...A woman's sixth sense--and a loaded revolver--signal premonitions of doom...A stranded motorist seeks refuge in a remote mansion, and is greeted with a dire warning...Detective Hercule Poirot faces his greatest challenge when his services are enlisted-by the victim-in a bizarre locked-room murder. From the stunning title story (which inspired the classic film thriller) to the rarest gems in detective fiction, these 11 tales of baffling crime and brilliant deduction showcase Agatha Christie at her dazzling best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: 11 short stories without Poirot or Marple, January 1, 2003 Reviewer: M. L. Worley from Kingdom of the Mouse, United States Each story herein, except "The Second Gong", has also appeared in either _The Hound of Death_ or _The Listerdale Mystery_. Some of the stories are fantasy fiction rather than mysteries, but don't be *too* quick to assign supernatural causes to anything. "Accident" (1929) - Evans (formerly Inspector Evans of the CID) recognizes in the six-years-married Merrowdenes the notorious Mrs. Anthony, acquitted of poisoning her first husband - judged to have died of an accidental overdose of arsenic. As a girl, her stepfather accidentally fell to his death from a cliff during a walk. Not looking good for *Mr.* Merrowdene... "The Fourth Man" (December 1925) As a supernatural story, best appreciated in Christie's fantasy-dominated collection _The Hound of Death_. Three ever-so-superior professional men - minister, physician, and lawyer - begin discussing a famous multiple personality case during a night train journey. Even though they're missing a fourth point of view - that of the man in the street - they ignore the fourth man in their compartment... "The Mystery of the Blue Jar" (1933) Jack Hartington lives for golf; since he's 24 and has to earn a living, he lives near a golf course where he can practice every morning before work. Then screams no one else hears begin coming from a cottage near the course, every morning at the same time - and whatever's going on centers around the image of a woman holding a blue jar. "The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl" a.k.a. "Mr. Eastwood's Adventure" (August 1924) Anthony Eastwood is stuck, trying to create a plot for the title "The Mystery of the Second Cucumber", when a mysterious phone call with 1 word - 'cucumber' - entangles him in a *real* mystery. "Philomel Cottage" (November 1924) Businesslike Alix King expected to marry Dick Windyford, fellow clerk, when they could afford it - but he was too proud to propose when she got a windfall inheritance. Then Gerald Martin swept her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship - a perfect stranger. But like Bluebeard's wives, Alix gets curious about his past... "The Red Signal" (June 1924) Sir Alington West, a distinguished alienist, has no time for ESP. His nephew Dermot has had a few 'red signals' in his life, but as his uncle points out, he'd seen signs of impending mortal peril and just hadn't consciously put them together. But why should he have it during a party - when the only danger is his hidden love for his best friend's wife? "The Second Gong" - An early version of "Dead Man's Mirror", written first but published later. I recommend the expanded rewrite in the _Dead Man's Mirror_ collection. "Sing a Song of Sixpence" (1934) Elderly Sir Edward Palliser, K.C., never expected to see Magdalen Vaughn again after a shipboard romance - let alone to be taken up on his offer to help if she ever needed it! Her family sponged off Great-aunt Lily Crabtree, who has been brutally murdered - and they're the chief suspects. "S.O.S." (February 1926) The Dinsmead family - pompous father, worn-down mother, and 3 grown children - moved to a lonely country home rather abruptly upon Mr. Dinsmead's retirement from the building trade. They're all unhappy, except the father, who seems to have something up his sleeve. Then a stranger (parapsychologist Mortimer Cleveland), stranded for the night by a flat tire, finds a mysterious message written in the dust beside his bed... "Where There's a Will" a.k.a. "Wireless" (1926) Mary Harter's physician, in the style of the old school, was far more blunt about the seriousness of her heart condition to her nephew than to her. Charles, making a parade of his superior knowledge of modern technology, wheedles her into getting not only an elevator, but a radio...which seems to justify all her misgivings about these electrical contraptions when it begins relaying messages from her late husband, saying that he's coming for her... "The Witness for the Prosecution" (1933) Unlike the Billy Wilder film version, here the viewpoint character and chief investigator is the prisoner's solicitor, Mayherne; the K.C. conducting the court case isn't even named. The information brought out during testimony in the film mostly appears during Vole's interview with Mayherne. The adaptation was faithful, except that here Vole's first meeting with Emily French is more dramatic, and her fluffy-headed eccentric image wasn't translated to film. The ending of the story, though, isn't as trite the movie's.