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In the short story The Lost Mine, Charles Lester was a young bank clerk who returned from Hong Kong on board the S. S. Asunta. While on board, he was observed to have associated with one Wu Ling. The desk clerk at the Russell Square Hotel, shown Lester's photograph, later identified him as the person who had called to meet Mr Wu Ling. Witnesses reported that Lester was seen with a Chinese man and they left together in a taxi for an opium den in Limehouse. He later emerged looking very pale and ill and took a taxi to the nearest underground station. Wu Ling was subsequently found to have been murdered, and the person who checked into the Russell Square Hotel was in fact an impersonator. Lester was also found to be in heavy debt, had a secret passion for gambling. He was arrested for the murder of Wu Ling until Poirot could exonerate him later.

Portrayals[]

Charles Lester was played by Colin Stinton in the film adaptation of the story in episode 3 of Series 2 of ITV's Agatha Christie's Poirot drama series. In the episode, his background was changed significantly. He was no longer a young bank clerk returning from Hong Kong. He became an American stockbroker with the firm of "Lester, Dodds and Parker" and had written a book, Investing Made Easy. From his picture of the cover of the book, the desk clerk at the St James Hotel identified him as the man who had called to meet Wu Ling. Questioned by the police, he admitted that he had been asked to meet Wu Ling at the hotel but he did not know him nor did he know why the meeting was called. Stressed by the investigation, Lester, an opium addict, retreated to an opium den in Chinatown and was found there by the police later. His wife also gave Poirot Wu Ling's passport, which she had found in one of Lester's coat pockets. Things would have looked black for him had not Poirot worked out the true facts of the case.

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