“Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie is yet another novel featuring her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The novel was first published in 1937.
|Book Title||:||Dumb Witness|
|Publisher||:||William Morrow Paperbacks, Collins Crime Club, and others|
|Purchase Links||:||Buy Dumb Witness from Flipkart.com|
How often does it happen that we write a letter and forget to post it, or rather used to happen when letter writing was still a part of our routine life? Hercule Poirot receives a letter on 28th June. The letter is very vague, written by a weary and sick old lady who is not able to put on paper what is worrying her. But, what intrigues Poirot most is that the letter was written on 17th April and was never posted. He decides to go and meet Miss Emily Arundel, only to discover that this writer of that letter died a few weeks ago.
Poirot starts ferreting around. Accompanied by Hastings, he visits the house, which is now up for sale. There he meets Ellen, Miss Arundel’s maid who confirms that she discovered the letter in the late lady’s paper and thought it was best to post it. As Poirot learns about the circumstances, a picture starts to emerge. Miss Arundel was a rich, old lady, the lone survivor of a wealthy family. Her only living relations are a nephew Charles and nieces Bella and Theresa.
Charles is a carefree young man, one of the lot that are born without any sense of morality. He is known to engage in unlawful activities, is always looking about for money and never too scrupulous to ask Miss Arundel for loans. Theresa is a beautiful young woman, who is so eager to enjoy life while she is young that she has already spent the fortune left to her by her parents. She is engaged to Dr. Rex Donaldson, who will need money to advance in his career. Bella is married to Dr. Tanios and is a mother of two children. Bella is a good woman, but her husband speculated with her money and lost it. They will need money to educate their children.
|Dumb Witness – by Agatha Christie||Dumb Witness – by Agatha Christie – first edition cover (1937)|
While all these people know that when Miss Arundel dies, they will inherit her money, they are all getting a bit desperate. While they are all staying with Miss Arundel during Easter holidays, they all try their luck and fail. On the last night of the holidays, Miss Arundel falls from the stairs and is severely injured, not dead however. Everyone believes that she tripped over the dog’s ball that is generally left at the top of the stairs. However, the old lady knows better and that’s why she writes the letter to Poirot but forgets to post it.
After a few weeks, she dies of lever disease. However, in the interim period she has changed her will such that her fussy and stupid companion Miss Lawson receives all the money instead of her family. The lawyer, Mr. Purvis, is of the opinion that sooner or later Miss Arundel would have changed the will back in favour of her family. This is confirmed by the nurse who witnessed that Miss Arundel wanted to change the will, but Miss Lawson did not let her. And to top it all, Miss Lawson provides a piece of information that proves that the fall from stairs was not an accident after all.
So we have seven persons with a motive to kill. Was the old lady murdered or she died of natural cause? If she was murdered, by whom and how? And as it happens so often, as Poirot reaches nearer the truth, will the murderer strike again?
Poirot finds out and so will you if you go until the end…………..
1937 Cover Page Image Curtsey : Wikipedia