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19 votes
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Customs at Calais in “The Mystery of the Blue Train”

In the 1920s, travellers on the Calais–Méditerranée express checked in their luggage at the departure station (for example, Victoria in London) and this was “registered through” to the destination ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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16 votes

Definition of "Victorian vandal"

This is a reference to a particular enthusiasm in Victorian times for "restoring" churches and other religious buildings. In some cases, this was a due to a desire to modernise them and ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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15 votes
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Did Poirot fabricate a fingerprint in "The ABC Murders"?

Poirot lied about fingerprints being found, in order to provoke the culprit into a confession. He did not fake any physical evidence. When he says "I put that part in for you", or in the ...
alexg's user avatar
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12 votes
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What is the meaning of this paragraph from Philip Lombard's introduction in "And Then There Were None"?

I haven't (yet) read the novel in question, but I can explain the passage's simple meaning as a fluent English speaker. Let's take this apart, one piece at a time. By Jove! As one of the ...
Shokhet's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why is the Agatha Christie play called "The Mousetrap"?

As @yannis and @Valorum have said in the comments, the play's original title Three Blind Mice had to be changed because there was an earlier play with the same title. Yannis shared this information ...
verbose's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why are so many Agatha Christie novels published with multiple titles?

This is because Christie was published in both the United States and the United Kingdom. These are the two largest markets for English-language books, and in the mid-20th century when Christie was ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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12 votes
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What is the source of this poem/song Captain Hastings quotes in Agatha Christie's "The Market Basing Mystery"?

"The Rabbit" is a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas, first published in the June 10, 1896 issue of a weekly called The Sketch (No. 176, vol. XIV, p. 264). The poem was reprinted in an 1898 ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
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11 votes
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What does Agatha Christie mean with "in a telegraphic style"?

When people actually sent telegraphs, they were charged at so much per word. Therefore a prudent correspondent would pare the words down to the minimum necessary to communicate information. https://en....
Spagirl's user avatar
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11 votes
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What does "One fancied things sometimes—fancied a fellow was looking at you queerly" mean from And Then There Were None?

‘Fancied’ here has the meaning ‘was inclined to believe’ or ‘thought it a possibility’. ‘One’ is effectively being used as a pronoun, meaning ‘I’. General MacArthur is talking to, and about, himself ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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11 votes
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Definition of "Victorian vandal"

Imagine you have an old house (or other building). It has a number of distinctive features - perhaps its windows are an unusual shape, or very large or small compared to how windows are now. Perhaps ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
9 votes
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What were the three clues mentioned at the end of Agatha Christie's And There Were None?

Spoilers for the book follow First, the killer is found with a bullet through the forehead. This is the "mark of Cain". Cain was the first murderer: And the Lord said to him, Therefore, whoever ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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8 votes

What does "her face was innocent of makeup" mean?

Make-up was long held to be morally questionable. You wore it to be more alluring, it misrepresented what you actually looked like, and you were risking your life and health for mere vanity, perhaps, ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,080
8 votes

How old was Hercule Poirot?

According to the Wikipedia page on Hercule Poirot and based on quotations from Curtain, Poirot died in October 1949, thirty-three years after he first met Captain Hastings in June 1916. (He wasn't ...
Gaurav's user avatar
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7 votes

How much of Ariadne Oliver's character is self-insertion by Agatha Christie?

Agatha Christie uses the character of Ariadne Oliver to gently satirize her own career as a writer of detective stories. A few of Christie’s personal characteristics also show up in Mrs Oliver, but ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why was the ending of "And Then There Were None" changed for the stage version?

And Then There Were None was originally published in 1939 at the outbreak of World War 2. The author adapted for the stage in 1943 when the war was at its apex. According to Hilary Strong, CEO of "...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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7 votes
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Is there any merit to reading the Poirot novels in order?

There's no need to read the Poirot books in any particular order. Agatha Christie has rewritten a few of the early Poirot short stories (see list) from the book Poirot's Early Cases (1923) and The ...
b_jonas's user avatar
  • 1,930
7 votes

What does "ongtray" mean?

I believe it means "entrée" but I am not entirely sure why Agatha Christie wrote ongtray instead. Checking the meaning of "entrée": The main course of a meal. 1.1 British A dish served between ...
muru's user avatar
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7 votes
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How much did Lombard know about the murders in "And Then There Where None"?

Lombard’s phrase “conjuring trick” refers back to chapter 14: Lombard said: “Armstrong’s disappeared…” Vera cried: “What?” Lombard said: “Vanished clean off the island.” Blore concurred: “...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
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What inspired the title of "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"?

I'm wondering if the claim you heard was a conflation of a few things. I could find two sources online stating that the title of Why Didn't They Ask Evans was something Christie overheard. The first ...
Kitkat's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is the source of this quote within Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Mr Quin?

The phrase "the shape of a face, the curve of a jaw" appears to be Satterthwaite recalling his own first impressions of seeing Gillian West. When he went to the opera at Covent Garden he ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
6 votes
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What does "her face was innocent of makeup" mean?

"Make-up" is a single compound word meaning cosmetics applied on the face. "Innocent" here simply means "without". Per Google/Lexico: without; lacking. "a street ...
Eddie Kal's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is a "dream bomb" in Agatha Christie's "Third Girl"?

The plot hinges on the dream state induced in Norma by drugs administered by Robert Orwell, posing as her father, and his wife. I believe that Christie introduces the notion of there being lots of '...
Spagirl's user avatar
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5 votes
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In the "Murder On The Links" by Agatha Christie, how is the murderer able to dig the grave?

The grave was dug, Poirot concludes, by M. Renauld himself: ‘That night Renauld will first bind and gag his wife, and then, taking a spade, will dig a grave in that particular plot of ground where he ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 58.7k
5 votes

Lily of the valley used for murder (Agatha Christie)

Are you sure that it was an Agatha Christie story? Anne Perry's murder mystery Weighed in the Balance (2010) features a murder using the water of lily-of-the-valley. From this summary: I found this ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the meaning of "The first rocket flamed to Heaven"?

They're watching fireworks. A few paragraphs earlier we have the sentence: "‘It’s warm,’ said Nick. ‘It’ll be nice when we’re watching the fireworks.‘" From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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4 votes
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Agatha Christie: some questions about The Hollow

The explanation seems extraordinary, but that’s what Henrietta says, and if she’s lying then we have nothing better. “Because John asked me to! That’s what he meant when he said ‘Henrietta.’ It was ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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4 votes
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Why did he die in "Philomel Cottage"?

The answer was in the locked drawer. Amongst the reports in the newspaper clippings was one which read: The personality of the man and his extraordinary power over women had been discussed at ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 19.1k
4 votes

To what extent did Agatha Christie base Captain Hastings on Dr. Watson?

Whether Agatha Christie intentionally copied Watson in Hastings or not, he is an example of a necessity for a successful mystery writer: To fully engage a reader, generally one has to not just ...
Roy's user avatar
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