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In the novel Hickory Dickory Dock, Celia Austin was a resident of the hostel at Hickory Road which belonged to Christina Nicoletis. Unlike most of the other residents, she is not a student but worked full-time as a chemist in the dispensary at St Catherine's Hospital. She was in love with a psychology student Colin McNabb but was discouraged because she seemed unable to attract his attention. In an innovative scheme, she began stealing a number of seemingly random and meaningless objects. She later confessed to the thefts. Colin, seeing an "interesting" case of kleptomania, responded and offered to look after her. He then announced that they were engaged to be married. However later that same evening, Celia died of poisoning by morphia tartrate which had been secretly added to her after dinner coffee.

Although appearances pointed to suicide, both Inspector Sharpe and Poirot considered it unlikely. For one thing, she had just gotten engaged to be married. The suicide note also looked makeshift and had been torn from part of another letter. Poirot also puzzled about the kleptomania. Celia was not considered very bright and she would not have the knowledge or the imagination to think up such a scheme on her own. Ultimately, it was revealed that she had been encouraged and helped in the scheme by Valerie Hobhouse. But that was not the reason why she was killed. As a fellow lodger, Sally Finch observed to Inspector Sharpe, she must have seen something, or known something but did not appreciate the significance of what she had seen or knew. In confirmation of this, another lodger Elizabeth Johnston told the Inspector, the evening of the day she died, Celia had come to Elizabeth and told her in a rather disjointed manner that she was not responsible for some of the thefts and strange events at the hostel (same as what Celia told Poirot earlier). She was not responsible for cutting up the rucksack or stealing the lightbulbs. But with Elizabeth, Celia seemed to imply that she knew who had done it but it was just that she did not understand why. She also wondered if it had anything to do with "the passport", implying that someone had a forged passport. Celia left Elizabeth the cryptic remark that by the next day she would know more about it.

Poirot later concluded that Celia had been killed because she had seen things which endangered the smuggling racket run by Nigel Chapman and Valerie Hobhouse. Celia had also indicated that she knew something about Nigel's secret past--she mentioned casually that she had once danced with Nigel at Cambridge during May Week.


In the 1995 ITV TV film adaptation, Celia Austin is portrayed by Jessica Lloyd. In this adaptation, the morphia was switched into the regular sleeping powder which she took and was not added to the coffee. In this adaptation she is taking a part-time course in chemistry and has an afternoon job at the pharmacy in the hospital.

In Pension Vanilos, the TV film adaptation of the novel by France Télévisions, the parallel character is Louise Lambert.