The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb is a short story written by Agatha Christie, which was first published in The Sketch in May 1923 in the U.K. The story was published in the U.S. in The Blue Book Magazine in April 1924. In 1924 also, the story appeared as part of the anthology Poirot Investigates.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Lady Willard, the widow of the famous Egyptologist Sir John Willard, asks Poirot to investigate the death of her husband. Sir John and the American financier of the excavation Mr Bleibner had both died within a fortnight of each other.
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Hercule Poirot is consulted by Lady Willard, the widow of the famous Egyptologist, Sir John Willard. He was the archaeologist on the excavation of the tomb of the Pharaoh Men-her-Ra together with the American financier Mr Bleibner. Both men died within a fortnight of each other, Sir John of heart failure and Mr Bleibner of blood poisoning. A few days later Mr Bleibner’s nephew, Rupert, shot himself and the press has been full of stories of an Egyptian curse. Lady Willard’s son, Guy, has now gone out to Egypt to continue his father’s work and she fears that he too will die next. To Hasting’s surprise, Poirot states that he believes in the forces of superstition and agrees to investigate.
As a first step, he cables New York for details concerning Rupert Bleibner. The young man was something of an itinerant in the south seas and had managed to borrow enough money to take him to Egypt as he told someone he had a "good friend" there who he could borrow from. His uncle however refused to advance him a penny and the nephew had gone back to New York where he sank lower and lower and then shot himself, leaving a suicide note saying that he was leper and an outcast. Poirot and Hastings then travel to Egypt and join the expedition – only to find that there has been another death in the party, that of an American by tetanus. Poirot investigates the dig and feels more and more the forces of evil at work.
On one night, Hassan, one of the Arab servants delivers Poirot his cup of camomile tea. As Hastings watches the desert night he hears Poirot choking having drunk the tea. He runs and fetches the expedition surgeon – Dr Ames- but this is a trick to get the doctor into their tent where Poirot orders Hastings to secure him but the doctor kills himself with a cyanide capsule. Poirot explains that the Rupert was Bleibner’s heir and the doctor, secretly, must have been Rupert’s heir. Sir John died of natural causes but started speculation regarding superstition, the force of its suggestions on people being something that Poirot believes in – not any supernatural occurrences. Everyone assumed that Rupert’s "good friend" in the camp was his uncle but that couldn’t have been the case as they rowed so quickly. Despite having no money, Rupert was able to get back to New York which shows that he did have an ally in the expedition but this was a false ally – the doctor, who told Rupert he had contracted leprosy in the south seas and it must be part of the curse (he did have a normal skin rash). When the doctor killed his uncle, Rupert believed himself cursed and shot himself and referred to the leprosy in his suicide note which everyone took as being metaphorical, not a reality.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Hercule Poirot
- Captain Hastings
- Sir John Willard
- Sir Guy Willard
- Mr Bleibner
- Rupert Bleibner
- Lady Willard
- Dr Tosswill
- Mr Schneider
- Dr Ames
- Mr Harper
References to other works[edit | edit source]
Research notes[edit | edit source]
Places mentioned[edit | edit source]
- Mena House Hotel - an actual hotel which Agatha Christie stayed at and which still exists
Film, TV, or theatrical versions[edit | edit source]
Agatha Christie's Poirot[edit | edit source]
A television film with David Suchet as Poirot was produced as episode 1 of Series 5 of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot, first broadcast on 17 January 1993. The adaptation is fairly faithful to the original story.
Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple[edit | edit source]
NHK produced an 2-part anime adaptation of the story as episodes 11 and 12 of their Japanese anime series Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple with the title: The Mystery of the Egyptian Tomb. The episode was broadcast in 2004 and features Hercule Poirot, Hastings and Miss Marple's great niece Mabel West.
Publication history[edit | edit source]
- 1923 The Sketch, Issue 1600 (London), 26 September 1923
- 1924 Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 4, August 1924 (as "The Egyptian Adventure")
- 1924 Poirot Investigates, Bodley Head (London), 1924
- 1925 Poirot Investigates, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1925