Black Coffee by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie's Black Coffee - a Hercule Poirot mysteryBlack Coffee by Agatha Christie, adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne

Miss Marple is my preferred Christie character – she amuses me in a way that Poirot does not. The additional bonus with Miss Marple is the lack of Hastings in the narrative – I’m not a big fan of his bumbling.

So, Black Coffee had some strikes against it already when it came to a Christie title – it’s Poirot, and Hastings is in it. Then when I borrowed the title I discovered that it was originally a play, written by Christie, but adapted into a novel by someone else.

Unfortunately, that adaptation shows. The action is very tightly located, and there felt like an excess of directions – someone enters the room, sits here, moves there, etc. I have no doubt it works better as a play, where the limitations that felt cramped in a novel are appropriate for a theatre setting.

I don’t regret reading it by any means, and for Poirot fans or anyone wanting to be sure to read all of Christie’s works it’s a must-read. For anyone else, it’s skippable.

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Publisher’s Description:

Inventor Sir Claude Amory feels a bitter taste in the mouth, when the new formula for explosive material stolen by someone in the household.

In order to quickly remedy the situation, Sir Claude locks the door and turns off the light, giving the thief a chance to return the formula without being detected. But darkness brings death and Hercule Poirot has to untangle family strife, love and suspicious visitors tangle in order to clarify the murderer and prevent disaster.

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  1. I agree. I didn’t realize it was an adaption when I started reading it, otherwise I may have decided to pass it over entirely. It’s the only Christie book I didn’t really like.

  2. To be honest, as much as I love AC, I don’t particularly care for ANY of the adaptations. They just don’t carry her voice as well as the original novels. Although I have grown to enjoy Poirot and his “leetle grey cells”!

    Have you read any with SI Battle yet? Or (my favorite) Tommy & Tuppence?

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