The Tragedy of Marsden Manor

Agatha Christie

first published in the UK, April 18, 1923 unillustrated, in The Sketch magazine Issue 1577
Christie wrote them following a suggestion from its editor, Bruce Ingram,
who had been impressed with the character of Poirot in The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Poirot is asked by a friend, who is the director of the Northern Union Insurance Company, to investigate the case of a middle-aged man who died of an internal haemorrhage just a few weeks after insuring his life for fifty thousand pounds. There were rumours that Mr Maltravers was in a difficult financial position and the suggestion has been made that he paid the insurance premiums and then committed suicide for the benefit of his beautiful young wife. Poirot and Hastings travel to Marsdon Manor in Essex where the dead man was found in the grounds, with a small rook rifle by his side. They interview the widow and can find nothing wrong. They are leaving when a young man, Captain Black, arrives. A gardener tells Poirot that he visited the house the day before the death. Poirot interviews Black and by using word association finds out that he knew of someone who committed suicide with a rook rifle in East Africa when he was there. Poirot realises that this story, told at the dinner table the day before the tragedy, gave Mrs Maltravers the idea as to how to kill her husband by making him demonstrate to her how the African farmer would have put the gun in his mouth. She then pulled the trigger and the unsuspicious local doctor certified a natural death. Mr Maltravers is seen by a maid in the garden. She thinks that it is just a mistake, but then in the living room a strange thing happens. The lights suddenly go out and Mrs Maltravers clasps Poirot's hand. Mr Maltravers appears in the room, his index finger glowing and pointing at Mrs Maltravers' hand, which is covered in his blood. Terrified, she confesses.

Poirot explains that he hired a man to impersonate Mr Maltravers and turn off the lights. When Mrs Maltravers grabbed Poirot's hand, he put fake blood on hers. The man applied phosphorescent to his finger to make it glow and pointed to the woman's hand, which was covered in fake blood.


run time: 29 minutes 32 seconds

This item was donated by the Friends of the Dunnellon Library, Dunnellon, Florida
to be placed in this forum so our Service Veterans may enjoy it.

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