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Poirot's Early Cases First Edition Cover 1974

Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition

Poirot's Early Cases
is a short story collection written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in September 1974. The book retailed at £2.25. Although the stories contained within the volume had all appeared in previous US collections, the book also appeared there later in 1974 under the slightly different title of Hercule Poirot's Early Cases in an edition retailing at $6.95.

In the collection, Christie charts some of the cases from Hercule Poirot's early career, before he was internationally renowned as a detective. All the stories had first been published in periodicals between 1923 and 1935.

Stories includedEdit

Literary significance and receptionEdit

Maurice Richardson in The Observer (22 September 1974) described Hastings as, "so dumb at times he makes Watson look like Leibnitz", and concluded, "Many date from an early period before she found herself as a Mystifier, but all communicate that unique Christie euphoria."

Robert Barnard: "A late collection of early stories (most from the 'twenties), which had been published in the States but not in Britain. This may suggest discarded chips from the workshop, but in fact the standard here is distinctly higher than the stories in Poirot Investigates, which were the ones Christie did publish at the time."

References or AllusionsEdit

References to other worksEdit

  • The Submarine Plans mentions the events recounted in the 1923 short story The Kidnapped Prime Minister and also references the fictional Prime Minister of that story, David McAdam.
  • Double Sin references the theatrical agent Joseph Aarons who had previously appeared in The Murder on the Links (1923).
  • In The Market Basing Mystery, Hastings slightly misquotes the anonymous piece of Doggerel verse which in full reads:
The rabbit has a charming face:
Its private life is a disgrace.
I really dare not name to you
The awful things that rabbits do;
Things that your paper never prints -
You only mention them in hints.
They have such lost, degraded souls
No wonder they inhabit holes;
When such depravity is found
It only can live underground.

References to actual history, geography and current scienceEdit

  • The events depicted in The Chocolate Box occurred in 1893, when the debate over the separation of church and state in France was a hot issue. In The Chocolate Box story the exact date is not mentioned, but in the novel Peril at End House, chapter 15, Poirot says that the events took place in 1893. Christie confuses the events of the separation of church and state as being a French issue that affected Belgium whereas the incidents were wholly confined to the French state. In the TV adaptation the Paul Déroulard murder takes place just prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
  • In Double Sin, Mary Durrant speaks of the miniatures she is transporting as being by Cosway. This is a reference to Richard Cosway (1742–1821), one of the most successful practitioners of that art of the Georgian era. 

References in other worksEdit

  • The Double Clue, first published in 1923, features the first of three appearances of the character of Countess Vera Rossakoff. Her other two appearances were in the series of stories in The Sketch magazine in early 1924 that eventually made up the contents of The Big Four (1927) and in The Capture of Cerberus, the final story of The Labours of Hercules (1947). Poirot's admiration of the lady mirrors that of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes for Irene Adler as described in A Scandal in Bohemia (1891). It also similar to the one it precedes in DC Comics Batman and Catwoman.
  • The Double Clue also features the use of the Cyrillic alphabet as a deception, a trick that Christie would reuse in Murder on the Orient Express (1934).
  • The plot set-up contained in The Market Basing Mystery of a suicide being made to look like murder to trap a blackmailer was expanded by Christie into the novella-length story Murder in the Mews published in the collection of the same name in 1937. It also bears resemblance to Conan Doyle's The Problem of Thor Bridge, solved by Sherlock Holmes.
  • The plot set-up contained in How Does Your Garden Grow? of a vague letter for assistance from a woman who soon dies was expanded by Christie into the full-length 1937 novel Dumb Witness.
  • The Chocolate Box case is mentioned on the novel Peril at End House (1932) in chapter 15, when Poirot tells Commander Challenger that he indeed had failures in the past.
  • The Submarine Plans published in 1923 has the same plot as "The Incredible Theft" published in 1937
  • The protagonist in Margaret Atwood's "Giving Birth" reads Poirot's Early Cases while in labour.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptationsEdit

Wasp's NestEdit

Wasp's Nest was the very first Agatha Christie story to be adapted for television with a live transmission taking place on 18 June 1937. 

Agatha Christie's PoirotEdit

Seventeen of the eighteen stories in the collection have been adapted for episodes in the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot with David Suchet in the role of Poirot, Hugh Fraser as Hastings, Philip Jackson as Japp and Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon. Only The Lemesurier Inheritance is yet to be filmed.

The adaptations (in order of transmission) were: Season One

  • The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: 8 January 1989
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly: 22 January 1989
  • The Third Floor Flat: 5 February 1989
  • Problem at Sea: 19 February 1989
  • The King of Clubs: 5 March 1989

Season Two

  • The Veiled Lady: 14 January 1990
  • The Lost Mine: 21 January 1990
  • The Cornish Mystery: 28 January 1990
  • Double Sin: 11 February 1990

Season Three

  • How Does Your Garden Grow?: 6 January 1991
  • The Affair at the Victory Ball: 20 January 1991
  • Wasp's Nest: 27 January 1991
  • The Double Clue: 10 February 1991
  • The Plymouth Express: 3 March 1991

Season Five

  • The Chocolate Box: 21 February 1993

Publication historyEdit

First publication of storiesEdit

All but five of the stories were first published in the UK, unillustrated, in The Sketch magazine. Christie wrote them following a suggestion from its editor, Bruce Ingram, who had been impressed with the character of Poirot in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The stories first appeared in The Sketch as follows:

The Affair at the Victory Ball: 7 March 1923 - Issue 1571 (This was Christie's first published short story).
The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: 14 November 1923 - Issue 1607.
The Cornish Mystery: 28 November 1923 - Issue 1609.
The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly: 10 October 1923 - Issue 1602 (under the title The Kidnapping of Johnny Waverly).
The Double Clue: 4 December 1923 - Issue 1610.
The King of Clubs: 21 March 1923 - Issue 1573 (under the title The Adventure of the King of Clubs).
The LeMesurier Inheritance: 18 December 1923 - Issue 1612.
The Lost Mine: 21 November 1923 - Issue 1608.
The Plymouth Express: 4 April 1923 - Issue 1575 (under the title The Mystery of the Plymouth Express). The plot was later reworked as the novel The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928).
The Chocolate Box: 23 May 1923 - Issue 1582 (under the title The Clue of the Chocolate Box).
The Veiled Lady: 3 October 1923 - Issue 1601 (under the title The Case of the Veiled Lady).
The Submarine Plans: 7 November 1923 - Issue 1606.
The Market Basing Mystery: 17 October 1923 - Issue 1603.

The remaining stories were published as follows:

  • The Third Floor Flat: First published in the January 1929 issue of Hutchinson's Adventure & Mystery Story Magazine.
  • Double Sin: First published in the 23 September 1928 edition of the Sunday Dispatch.
  • Wasp's Nest: First published in the 20 November 1928 edition of the Daily Mail.
  • Problem at Sea: First published in issue 540 of The Strand magazine in December 1935 (under the title of Poirot and the Crime in Cabin 66).
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?: First published in issue 536 of The Strand magazine in August 1935. The story was illustrated by R. M. Chandler.

The Submarine Plans had previously been expanded and published as The Incredible Theft in the 1937 collection, Murder in the Mews. The 1974 version reverts to the original 1923 text.

The Market Basing Mystery had previously appeared in book form in the UK in the 1966 collection Thirteen for Luck!, which otherwise reprinted stories which had previously appeared in book collections.

US book appearances of storiesEdit

Although Poirot's Early Cases was published in the U.S., all of the stories had previously appeared in the following U.S. collections: Poirot Investigates (1924) - The Chocolate Box, The Veiled Lady, The Lost Mine (US version only).
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (1939) - Problem at Sea, How Does Your Garden Grow?.
Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (1950) - The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly, The Third Floor Flat.
The Under Dog and Other Stories (1951) - The Affair at the Victory Ball, The King of Clubs, The Plymouth Express, The Market Basing Mystery, The Submarine Plans, The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, The Cornish Mystery, The Le Mesurier Inheritance
Double Sin and Other Stories (1961) - The Double Clue, Double Sin, Wasp's Nest.

International titlesEdit

  • German: Poirots erste Fälle (Poirot's First Cases)
    Mord auf dem Siegesball (Murder at the Victory Ball)
    Köchin gesucht (Cook Wanted)
    Die mysteriöse Angelegenheit in Cornwall (The Mysterious Case in Cornwall)
    Poirot und der Kidnapper (Poirot and the Kidnapper)
    Ein Indiz zuviel (One Evidence Too Much)
    Die Abenteuer des Kreuzkönigs (The Adventure of the King of Clubs)
    Das Erbe der Familie Lemesurier (The Inheritance of the Lemesurier Family)
    Die verlorene Mine (The Lost Mine)
    Das Geheimnis des Plymouth-Express (The Secret of the Plymouth-Express)
    Die Pralinenschachtel (The Chocolate Box)
    Die U-Boot-Pläne (The Submarine Plans)
    Tod im dritten Stock (Death in the Third Floor)
    Die Doppelsünde (The Double Sin)
    Stille vor dem Sturm (The Calm Before a Storm)
    Das Wespennest (The Wasp's Nest)
    Poirot geht stehlen (Poirot Goes Thieving)
    Eine Tür fällt ins Schloss (A Door Falls Shut)
    Der verräterische Garten (The Taletelling Garden)
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