Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot #7), by Agatha Christie and Charles Osborne

Eight stars

In a twist within the Poirot series comes a novel that was once a stage play penned by Agatha Christie. Years later, Charles Osbourne took the play and turned it into this novel, one in which Hercule Poirot shows off his abilities once again. His wit is sharp and his deductive reasoning like no other. By the end, the reader will see once again how important using grey cells can be when finding a killer among a group of individuals with plenty of motive. A great story by Christie with Osbourne’s skill at putting it into novel format.

While enjoying a quite breakfast, Hercule Poirot is alerted to a phone message that he ought to return. It would seem that one Claude Amory requires Poirot’s assistance right way. Amory, an inventor who works with atomic energy, has had the plans to his latest creations nabbed before the Department of Defence could take possession. Amory wants Poirot to come and finger the thief in a subtle way, asking that the Belgian rush to his home.

While Amory has some guests at his home, the plans remain missing. Alerting the guests that Poirot is on the way, Amory offers everyone in his home the chance to come clean. He locks the door, turns off the lights and promises no blowback if the plans are returned. However, things take a turn when the light come back on and Claude Amory is dead from a dose of poison in his coffee.

Arriving with the body recently discovered, Poirot begins working all the leads, which includes a poisoned mug of coffee that Amory consumed. The killer is surely in the house and Poirot is ready to use his time to crack the case. Working alongside his old friend, Arthur Hastings, Poirot susses out the truth and collars a murderer at the same time. However, it will take patience and determination to piece it all together. A wonderful piece by Agatha Christie, with Charles Osbourne offering up the novelisation, that is sure to keep the grey cells buzzing.

I have come to enjoy many of the pieces that Agatha Christie presents in this series, tapping into unique approaches to murder and criminal activity. She has a knack for developing a stirring narrative with plot line, which Charles Osbourne has been able to replicate with ease. While the story is not complex, it is highly entertaining and kept me guessing throughout. I enjoyed this unique approach to storytelling and am eager to see how things progress with Poirot and all those he encounters.

Poirot remains sharp and edgy throughout this piece, pushing the boundaries of what the reader has come to expect from the Belgian detective. Working in the moment, Poirot seeks to use nuances and small clues to work towards the larger picture, all while he reminds those around him how great he is at his job. Without the need to worry about backstory, the reader can focus on enjoying Poirot in the moment and see how things progress from there.

There’s something about the approach used in this piece that has me highly intrigued. I am not sure if it is Christie’s turning a Poirot mystery into a play or Osbourne’s seamless ability to make it another novel, but I was hooked throughout the reading experience. A great narrative worked well to keep the reader on track throughout the piece and allowed for some wonderful plot twists. I enjoyed how the story moved around a number of key characters, including the return of Captain Arthur Hastings to keep things fresh. While Poirot is a beast like no other, it is his slow and methodical nature that keeps things highly entertaining for all those involved in the mystery. Let’s see what else is to come in this series!

Kudos, Dame Christie and Mr. Osbourne, for another winner. I am eager to see how the series progresses and how past novels might loosely tie in to what is to come.