The Adventure of 'The Western Star' is a short story written by Agatha Christie which was first published in The Sketch in April 1923 in the U.K. The story was published in the U.S. in The Blue Book Magazine in February 1924. In 1924 also, the story appeared as part of the anthology Poirot Investigates.
A famous American film star consults Poirot about a series of letters threatening that her celebrated diamond 'The Western Star' will be stolen on "the night of the full moon".
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Hercule Poirot receives a visit from Miss Mary Marvell, the famous American film star on her visit to London. She has received three letters, handed to her by a Chinese man, which warn her to return her fabulous diamond jewel, the "Western Star", to where it came from – the left eye of an idol – before the next full moon. Her husband, Gregory Rolf had bought the jewel from a Chinese man in San Francisco three years ago and had given it to her. Poirot asks Mary Marvell to leave the jewel with him but she declines. She is going to stay at Yardly Chase, the home of Lord and Lady Yardly next Friday to discuss the making of a film there and Mary is determined to wear her diamond there. Next Friday happens to be the next full moon.
Hastings recalls society gossip three years back that linked Rolf and Lady Yardly. The Yardlys also own an identical diamond that came from the right eye of the idol – the Star of the East. Mary Marvell shows them a newspaper gossip column stating that both eyes shall return to the idol.
After Mary has gone, Poirot also goes out. Hastings receives a visit from Lady Yardly (she was advised to visit Poirot by her friend Mary Cavendish. Hastings "deduces" that she too has received warning letters just like Mary Marvell.
The next day Lord Yardly calls on Poirot. He tells them the story about "two eyes of a Chinese idol" is nonsense. His diamond, the Star of the East came from India. He plans to sell the jewel as he is in debt but Lady Yardly opposes it.
Poirot and Hastings call at Yardly Chase. Lord Yardly persuades his wife to wear the Star of the East one last time before it is sold. As she enters the room, the lights go out and Lady Yardly is attacked by a Chinese man and her jewel stolen.
The next day, Mary’s jewel "The Western Star" is stolen from her London hotel, apparently by someone looking like Gregory Rolf but who told the reception clerk that he had been mistaken for a Chinese before. Poirot goes to the hotel and has a private interview with Gregory Rolf.
Later that day, Poirot surprises Hastings by returning the "Star of the East" to Lord Yardly. There never were two jewels or any Chinese man – it was all an invention of Rolf’s. Three years before in the USA he had an affair with Lady Yardly and blackmailed her into giving him the diamond which he then gave to his wife as a wedding present. Lady Yardly’s was a paste copy that would have been discovered when her husband sold it. She was starting to fight back against her blackmailer. Rolf arranged for Lady Yardly to fake her robbery. Rolf then "stole" Mary Marvell's diamond from the hotel. In this way, he would solve Lady Yardly's problem, claim 50,000 pounds insurance money and still keep the diamond. During his private interview with Rolf, Poirot had confronted him with the facts. Rolf had broken down and returned the diamond.
- Hercule Poirot
- Captain Hastings
- Mary Marvell
- Gregory B. Rolf
- Lord Yardly
- Lady Yardly
References to other works
- Poirot to Hastings: "Always with you it is the non-essentials! Remember the case of the dancer Valerie Saintclair?"
- Lord Cronshaw recommended Poirot to Mary Marvell.
- Mary Cavendish recommended Poirot to Lady Yardly.
Film, TV, or theatrical versions
Agatha Christie's Poirot
A television film with David Suchet as Poirot was produced as episode 9 of Series 2 of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot, first broadcast on 4 March 1990. The adaptation is fairly faithful to the original story with some minor embellishments and additional scenes.
- 1923: The Sketch, Issue 1576 (London), 11 April 1923.
- 1924: The Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 38 No. 4, February 1924 (as "The Western Star")
- 1924: Poirot Investigates, Bodley Head (London), 1924
- 1925: Poirot Investigates, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1925
- 1946: Short Story Magazine (Australia), no. 27, Invincible Press (Sydney), Oct 1946.
- 1964: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, vol. 43 no. 1, whole no. 242, Jan 1964, as "Poirot Puts a Finger in the Pie".