Lethal Affairs

Of Agatha Christie, murders, and plot twists

A Little Romance from Christie

Many of us are aware that Agatha Christie actually wrote several romance novels under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott, but I am sure you have noticed that her usual whodunits are not all just about murders, too. For my special Christmas post this year, let’s have a look at some of the notable couples in Christie’s works. The usual warning to readers: Spoilers ahead!

1. Tommy & Tuppence Beresford.

First appearance: The Secret Adversary (1922)

Probably the most famous couple to date in Christie’s works. There are altogether four titles dedicated to this pair, and whenever the story involves them we can expect lots of incoming adventure and comedy! Most (if not all) the time they are involved in espionage attempts instead of cold-blooded murder cases, so I guess this is a way for Christie to infuse variety into her work. The couple appeared last in Postern of Fate (1973), the last novel written by Christie before her demise.

2. Arthur Hastings & Dulcie Duveen

First appearance: Murder on the Links (1923)

This is the first Christie book that I read, and judging from my craze for her whodunits today you can say this title really made an impression on me! Poirot and Captain Hastings are off to the south of France to investigate a case of blackmail and subsequently murder. A fated meeting on a train between Hastings and his wife-to-be (whom he calls Cinderella) sets off a chain of events, and love blossoms in the end. They had four children altogether; Hastings appeared last in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case.

3. Anne Beddingfield & John Eardsley (alias Harry Rayburn)

Appear in: The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)

Here is another of Christie’s “adventure and romance” titles, albeit being a little too dramatic for my tastes, perhaps. Anne Beddingfield has always yearned for adventure in her life. After the passing of her famous archaeologist father, she decides to pursue a clue left at the scene of a murder and books a passage on Kilmorden Castle to Cape Town, where she meets Harry Rayburn. From there on it is non-stop action and drama; a very refreshing read indeed.

4. Major John Despard & Rhoda Dawes

First appearance: Cards on the Table (1936)

Definitely one of Christie’s best years, three of her famous works were published in 1936: The A.B.C. Murders, Murder in Mesopotamia, and Cards on the Table, which has always been one of my personal favourites. Major Despard is one of the suspects in the murder of the illustrious Mr. Shaitana, a famous collector who also happens to collect “murderers who got away with their crimes”. However, it is interesting to note that the ending in the 2005 movie adaptation is significantly different as Major Despard ended up with Anne Meredith instead. Major Despard & Rhoda appeared last in The Pale Horse (1961), being happily married by that time.

5. Jacqueline de Bellefort & Simon Doyle

Appear in: Death on the Nile (1937)

Yet another of Christie’s popular works, albeit one with a tragic ending. But perhaps it was the best way out for both Jacqueline & Simon, who planned the murder of the beautiful heiress Linnet Ridgeway while on a cruise on the Nile River. Poirot solved the mystery in the end, revealing their near flawless plan to kill Linnet Ridgeway to obtain her money; however he allowed Jacqueline to kill herself and Simon to avoid an unpleasant death should they be taken to the court.

6. Raymond Boynton & Dr. Sarah King

Appear in: Appointment with Death (1938)

While on a holiday to Jurusalem and Petra, Poirot gets involved in an exciting murder case but with no way of proving that it was a murder. The Boyntons are a strange family with seemingly dark secrets behind them, and it appears that the members may have been collaborating to get rid of their tyrannical stepmother by injecting her with a lethal dose of digitoxin. However, there are more facts to the case that Poirot will need to solve first before he can decide who the real culprit was. The story ends satisfactorily with two other couples tying the knot; Carol Boynton with Jefferson Cope, and Ginevra Boynton with Dr. Gerard. However, the 2008 movie adaptation is a little awkward to watch, as Ginevra is revealed to be Dr. Gerard’s daughter in the end (but not in the novel though!)

7. Philip Lombard & Vera Elizabeth Claythorne

Appear in: And Then There Were None (1939)

Officially not a couple in the original plot for the book, since both of them died as predicted by the mastermind killer, Justice Wargrave. Philip, the ninth (actually eighth) surviving member of the group, was shot to death by Vera, who then proceeded to hang herself out of her feeling of guilt. However, this ending was deemed too tragic thus it was altered by Christie herself for the stage, where Philip and Vera became the only surviving members and lived happily ever after.

8. Elinor Katherine Carlisle & Dr. Peter Lord

Appear in: Sad Cypress (1940)

I must confess that this is my favourite couple up to today. Poirot takes the centre stage again here, where he successfully defended Elinor Carlisle on the charge of murdering her elderly aunt, Mrs Welshman and Elinor’s love rival, Mary Gerrard. Elinor was sentenced to death for her apparent role in the crimes, but Dr. Lord was in love with her and brought in Hercule Poirot to have her acquitted at all costs. The 2003 movie adaptation ends just as great; altogether a greatly recommended title.

9. Victoria Jones & Richard Baker

Appear in: They Came to Baghdad (1951)

This story is often compared to The Man in the Brown Suit due to their similar settings and themes; most action takes place in the Middle East with the main themes being adventure and romance. Not to forget espionage and British secret agents too, of course. The heroine here is a young lady with the name of Victoria Jones; recently out of her job, she decides to follow a man whom she falls in love with to Baghdad. Nothing much is known about this mysterious stranger other than his first name, Edward. Once there, things start going out of hand when another mystery man drops dead in Victoria’s room. Her exciting adventure concludes when Victoria finds love in the unlikely hero of the story; the archaeologist Richard Baker.

10. Dr. Arthur Calgary & Hester Argyle

Appear in: Ordeal by Innocence (1958)

One of Christie’s personal favourites, Ordeal has one of the best psychological plots she has ever written, rivalled only by the likes of And Then There Were None and Crooked House. Arthur Calgary plays the hero of the story, unmasking the real culprit in a murder committed two years ago. In the process he saves Hester Argyle, whom others believed to be guilty of the crime.

And that concludes my Christie reviews for 2011. I would like to thank all readers for your time to read my posts, and have a very Merry Christmas among your loved ones!

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December 18, 2011 - Posted by | Books, Crime Fiction | , , , , , , , ,

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