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 Agatha Christie : Cards on The Table

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PostSubyek: Agatha Christie : Cards on The Table   Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:17 pm

Penulis : Agatha Christie
Terbit : November 2nd, 1936
Bahasa : Inggris
Sinopsis : Cards on the Table is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on November 2 1936 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year . The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence and the US edition at $2.00.

The book features the recurring characters of Hercule Poirot, Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle and the bumbling crime writer Ariadne Oliver, making her first appearance in a Christie novel (she previously had a role in the Parker Pyne short story The Case of the Discontented Soldier

At an exhibition of snuff boxes, Hercule Poirot meets Mr. Shaitana, a mysterious foreign man who is consistently described as devil-like in appearance and manner. Shaitana jokes about Poirot's visit to the snuff box exhibition, and claims that he has a better "collection" that Poirot would enjoy: individuals who have gotten away with murder. He arranges a dinner party to show off this collection; Poirot is apprehensive.

Upon arrival at Shaitana's house on the appointed day, Poirot is joined by three other guests: mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver, Scotland Yard's Superintendent Battle, and Colonel Race of His Majesty's Secret Service. Soon, the other four guests join them: Dr. Roberts, a hearty, florid man; Mrs. Lorrimer, a perfectly poised gentlewoman of late middle age; Major John Despard, a dashing Army man and world traveler, recently returned from Africa; and Anne Meredith, a shy, quiet, very pretty young woman. Having brought them all to dinner, Shaitana skillfully manipulates the topic of conversation to possible motives for murder.

Shaitana invites his eight guests to play bridge in the adjoining rooms; he, as the odd man out, does not play. Roberts, Meredith, Lorrimer, and Despard play in the first room, while Poirot, Oliver, Race, and Battle play in the next; Shaitana settles himself in a chair in the first room and thinks of how wonderfully his party is going. Hours later, Poirot and the others prepare to leave, and go to thank Shaitana. Shaitana has been murdered, stabbed in the chest with a jeweled stiletto.

Once the preliminary police work has been done, Poirot reveals Shaitana's strange mention of a "collection" to the other three with whom he played bridge. They quickly realize that they are four "sleuths" meant to be pitted against the four in the next room whom Shaitana suspected of murder. The four agree to work together to solve the crime, and interview the four suspects. Poirot takes interest in the way each member plays bridge, which he discerns through asking each suspect to grade the play of the others. As there seems to be no conventional way to prove which of them has committed Shaitana's murder, Poirot suggests that the group of sleuths delve into the past and uncover the murders that the dead man thought he knew about.

Battle is put on the trail of the death of a Mrs. Craddock, whom Dr. Roberts once attended. Her husband died of anthrax poisoning from an infected shaving brush (and readers at the time of the novel's publication in the 1930s might well have remembered anthrax deaths from infected shaving brushes during and in the years after World War I); Mrs. Craddock herself had died not long afterward, of a tropical infection, in Egypt. Race seeks out information on Despard, and discovers a case in which a botanist named Luxmore and his wife traveled with him to South America; Luxmore officially died of a fever, but it is rumored that he was shot. Mrs. Oliver visits Anne Meredith and her housemate, Rhoda Dawes. Rhoda later visits Oliver and explains Anne's bad manners: Anne, after her father's death and before old friend Rhoda came to her rescue, worked as a live-in companion; one employer, a Mrs. Benson, had taken hat paint—poison—from a medicine bottle and died. Fellow suspect Despard takes an interest in Anne's welfare, recommending that she retain an attorney.

In the meantime, the four sleuths gather and compare notes. Meanwhile, Poirot sets a trap for Anne Meredith. When she pays him a call at his request, he shows her to a table on which many packets of the finest silk stockings are piled up, apparently carelessly. After Anne makes her gift suggestions and leaves, Poirot discovers that two pairs of the stockings are missing, confirming his suspicion that Anne is a thief, and seemingly giving weight to his suspicion that she stole from Mrs. Benson and killed her when she feared she had been discovered.

At this point, Mrs. Lorrimer contacts Poirot with surprising news. She confesses to Shaitana's murder, and explains that she took the stiletto impulsively after he mentioned poison as a woman's weapon. Shaitana was right about her, she says; twenty years earlier, she had, she confesses, killed her husband. Poirot objects that Lorrimer's explanation of Shaitana's killing does not match her unflappable personality. Lorrimer thus believes that Meredith is Shaitana's killer, and decided to lie to save the younger woman. She begs Poirot to let her take the blame for the crime: she will die soon anyway, and Anne will be free to live her young life.

Poirot is confused by this confession, and fears that there may be more trouble to come. His guess proves correct when Mrs. Lorrimer is found dead the next morning, having apparently committed suicide. Roberts arrived before she was quite dead and attended to her, but she could not be saved. Poirot and Battle race to Anne Meredith's cottage, fearing that she might strike again. Despard, who has been visiting Anne and Rhoda, both of whom fancy him, is a few steps ahead of Poirot and Battle. At Anne's suggestion, Anne and Rhoda are on a boat in a nearby river. Poirot and Battle see Anne suddenly push her friend into the water. Alas for Anne, when she knocks Rhoda into the water, she also falls in herself. Despard rescues Rhoda; Anne drowns.

Poirot gathers Oliver, Battle, Despard, Rhoda, and Roberts at his home, where he makes a surprising announcement: the true murderer of both Shaitana and Mrs. Lorrimer is not Anne, but Dr. Roberts. Poirot brings in a window cleaner who happened to be working outside Mrs. Lorrimer's flat earlier that morning. He testifies that he saw Roberts inject Lorrimer with a syringe; a syringe, Poirot reveals, full of a lethal anesthetic. Battle chimes in that they can bolster any prosecution with the true story of the deaths of the Craddocks, who died of infections, true, but infections deliberately inflicted on each of them by Roberts. Roberts confesses.

Poirot points out that in the third rubber of bridge on the night of Shaitana's murder, a grand slam occurred. This intense play would keep the others focused on the game—Roberts was dummy at that point—while Roberts used the opportunity to stab Shaitana. It is also revealed that the "window cleaner" was actually an actor in Poirot's employ, though Poirot brags that he did "witness" Roberts kill Mrs. Lorrimer in his mind's eye. Despard suggests that one of the gathered party murder Poirot, and then watch his ghost come back to solve the crime.



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