Ingots of Gold is a short story written by Agatha Christie and first published in The Royal Magazine in February 1928 in the UK. In the U.S., the story was first published in Detective Story Magazine in June 1928. It is the third short story of the Tuesday Night Club story arc.
In 1932, the story was gathered and published as part of the short story collection The Thirteen Problems.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Raymond West takes his turn in telling a story. It took place two years earlier when Raymond spent Whitsun in Cornwall with a recent acquaintance called John Newman. He was something of an authority on the Spanish Armada and had bought the salvage rights to a shipwreck from the Armada which sank off the coast and eluded many attempts at recovery over the years. Travelling by train to Newman's house in the village of Polperran, Raymond shared a carriage with Police Inspector Badgworth who knew of the Spanish treasure trove but was specifically interested in a more recent wreck of a ship called the Otrantowhich sank six months previously and whose bullion had either been removed from the ship's strongroom after the hull had been torn open on the rocks of Serpent's Point or stolen some time before. The Inspector was investigating the matter.
Arriving in Cornwall, Raymond settled into Newman's house and the following day went with him to the local pub, The Three Anchors where he immediately felt suspicious of the landlord, Mr Kelvin, who made meaningful comments about the police and other "foreigners" looking into local matters. The next day, Sunday, saw a storm brewing over the area which coincided with Raymond having a feeling of foreboding. This feeling was justified when Newman went out for a walk that night and failed to return although his disappearance was not noticed until the following day. A search was set up and the missing man was found bound and gagged in a local ditch. His story was that he spotted some men bringing something onto a beach by boat in a local spot appropriately called "Smuggler's Cove" and then putting the cargo into a local cave. The men set upon him, bound him and drove him to the ditch in a lorry. Badgworth found evidence that the cave had been used to store something but, more importantly, tyre tracks on the route that Newman was taken on matched a tyre on a lorry owned by Mr Kelvin. A night-nurse of a neighbour of the pub was able to testify however that the lorry was never taken out of its garage on the night in question. Kelvin therefore evaded arrest and Raymond didn't know the solution to the mystery.
Again it is Miss Marple who hits on the solution when she admonishes her nephew on his choice of friends and Sir Henry, laughing, confirms that he knows something of the case and that the old lady is right. Newman is not the man's real name and he is now in Princetown Prison for the theft of gold from a London strongroom. He used the wreck and smuggling story to cover his tracks and Kelvin was set up as a scapegoat. The landlord's lorry was never used but a tyre was taken off it during the night and put on another lorry to provide the "evidence". Newman's accomplice was probably his gardener who Raymond saw working on a bed of rose trees on the Monday morning when they realised Newman was "missing" – as Miss Marple states, real gardeners never work on Whit Monday!
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Miss Jane Marple
- Raymond West
- Joyce Lemprière
- Henry Clithering
- Dr Pender
- Mr Petherick
- John Newman
- Inspector Badgworth
- Mr Kelvin - landlord of The Three Anchors
- Bill Higgins
Locations[edit | edit source]
- Princetown Prison
Research notes[edit | edit source]
Film, TV, or theatrical versions[edit | edit source]
Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple[edit | edit source]
NHK produced an anime adaptation of the story as episode 14 of their Japanese anime series Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple with the title Crime of the Gold Ingots. The episode was broadcast in 2004 and features Miss Marple and her great niece Mabel West.
Publication history[edit | edit source]
- 1928 The Royal Magazine (London), issue 352 February 1928 - with illustrations by Gilbert Wilkinson
- 1928 Detective Story Magazine (New York), Volume 102 Number 1, 16 June 1928 - as "The Solving Six and the Golden Grave"
- 1932, The Thirteen Problems/The Tuesday Club Murders
- 1932, Collins Crime Club (London), June 1932, Hardcover, 256 pp
- 1933, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1933, Hardcover, 253 pp
- 1943, Dell Books (New York), Paperback, (Dell number 8)
- 1953, Penguin Books, Paperback, (Penguin number 929), 224 pp (under slightly revised title of Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problems)
- 1958, Avon Books (New York), Paperback (Avon number T245)
- 1961, Pan Books, Paperback (Great Pan G472), 186 pp
- 1963, Dell Books (New York), Paperback, 192 pp
- 1965, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
- 1968, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 207 pp ISBN 0-85456-475-6
- 1972, Greenway edition of collected works (William Collins), Hardcover, 222 pp
- 1973, Greenway edition of collected works (Dodd Mead), Hardcover, 222 pp
- 2005, Marple Facsimile edition (Facsimile of 1932 UK first edition), September 12, 2005, Hardcover, ISBN 0-00-720843-X