Monday, December 26, 2011

Mystery Mondays: Agatha Christie's "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding" (1960)

From Tea with Mary Kate

"The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, or The Theft of the Royal Ruby" (1960) is an Agatha Christie mystery short story featuring her eccentric Belgian detective, M. Hercule Poirot.  Since a lot of the action takes place on Boxing Day, it is an appropriate read for today.  The tale begins on Christmas Eve, with M. Poirot as one of several guests at an English country manor called Kings Lacey, presumably so that he can experience a typical old-fashioned English Christmas.  In reality he is there to help solve the mystery of a ruby stolen from a young Eastern prince.  Meanwhile, three of the young people in the group decide to test Poirot's detective skills by staging a fake death on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.  Also, that night Poirot discovers a rough note on his pillow warning him not to eat the Christmas pudding to be served the next day.

For Christmas a hearty dinner is served, including the pudding, which contains the traditional tokens, although the head of the house, Colonel Lacey, ends up with a non-traditional piece of red glass, much to his annoyance.  The next day, the fake murder is staged, but to everyone's astonishment and consternation, Poirot pronounces the young victim dead.  Panic of all sorts ensues, the royal ruby is recovered and the thieves revealed, and the murder victim miraculously comes back to life, all thanks to the clever machinations of M. Hercule Poirot.  Even the mystery of the note on Poirot's pillow is solved, and so the holidays end happily for everyone except the thieves, who don't deserve a merry Christmas anyway!

This story is part of a collection first published in 1960 under the title of The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées.  A very detailed summary of the story can be found on Wikipedia.  This story was recorded for the BBC Radio Series and when available can be heard here.

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