Locking everyone in the library, Sir Claud switches off the lights to allow the thief to replace the formula on the table, no questions asked.
When the lights come on, however, he is dead, and Hercule Poirot, with assistance from Hastings and Inspector Japp, has to unravel a tangle of family feuds, old flames, and suspicious foreigners to find the killer and prevent a global catastrophe.
©1998 Agatha Christie Limited, a Chorion Company. All rights reserved. Adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne. Charles Osborne asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work; (P)1998 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, UK
"Christie biographer Osborne's adaptation of the grande dame's 1930 play has been blessed by the Christie estate and heartily endorsed by her grandson Michael Prichard. It's a classic 'someone in this room is the murderer' tale set in 1934." (Publishers Weekly)
'Black Coffee' has some novelty value as a Hercule Poirot mystery, being a story that not every Hercule Poirot fan would be familiar with. However, for me this story is not as good as Agatha Christie's own Hercule Poirot novels.
Three of Agatha Christie's stage plays have been novelised by Charles Osborne so far (the other two being 'The Unexpected Guest' and 'Spider's Web') and of those three adaptations, 'Black Coffee' is my least favourite book. It's not actually a bad story, it's just that Charles Osborne's writing style differs from Agatha Christie's.
This is a well narrated audiobook. John Moffatt does a good Hercule Poirot, of course, having played the role in the majority of the Hercule Poirot radio dramatisations produced by the BBC.
Listening to Black Coffee I came to the conclusion that there was a reason that it was never adapted in to a novel by Agatha Christie herself... it was a meant to be performed on a stage and not read as a novel. Also, Agatha Christie had used part of the actual solution in one of her novels!
This isn't a proper Agatha Christie book. 'Black Coffee' was originally a play that has been adapted in to a novel... and it shows. Although for Agatha Christie fans this is an additional Hercule Poirot/Captain Hastings adventure that can just be enjoyed for what it is. A mildly entertaining mystery with a simple plot, but not classic Poirot by any means.
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