The Adventure of the Peroxide Blonde is a short story by Agatha Christie which was first published in issue 1622 of The Sketch on 27 February 1924. It was the ninth of a series of connected stories to be published in the magazine under the series title "The Man who was Number Four: Further Adventures of M. Poirot". In January 1927, the stories in the series were woven together with minor changes and some additional connecting paragraphs and then published in novel form as The Big Four. Later the same year, in November 1927, the story was published in The Blue Book Magazine.
The short story formed the basis for chapter 14 of The Big Four ("The Peroxide Blonde").
Poirot zeroes in on an actor named Claud Darrell as the possible identity of Number 4. He meets Flossie Monro, an old friend of Darrell to try to learn more about him.
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Poirot is optimistic about his progress. He has identified Number 1, 2 and 3. As for number 4, he surmises that he must have experience as an actor, and from the several times they had encountered him, he has some idea of his age, height, build and complexion. Poirot engages some agents including his friend Joseph Aarons to help compile a list of actors who fit the description. Four names are shortlisted and of these, Claud Darrell looks suspicious as he has visited both China and America.
Very soon, Darrell's friend, Florence Monro, calls Poirot to tell him information about Darrell. She gives one important point, that when he eats he always picks up a piece of bread and dabs up the crumbs with it. She also promises to send him a photo of Darrell. Twenty minutes later Miss Monro is hit by a car and killed, while number Four had taken her latch-key, gone into her flat and stolen the photograph.
- Hercule Poirot
- Captain Hastings
- Inspector Japp - mentioned in the novel version only
- Joseph Aarons
- Mr McNeil
- Flossie Monro
- In the Sketch stories, the name is Claud Darell with one "r" while in the novel it is consistently Claud Darrell with two "r"s.
Comparison between the original story and the version in the novel
- The beginnings of the chapter in the novel and the original short story vary significantly.
- In the novel, the setting is the days immediately following the previous chapter. Japp and his men go through the location where Hastings was held, looking for clues. They find nothing except for some notes made by the enemy on Hastings and Poirot, outlining their weaknesses which could be exploited. For Hastings, it is his weakness for women with red hair. For Poirot, it is "overweening vanity" and "finicky tidiness".
- The original story begins with Hastings noting that months could pass with nothing happening relating to the Big Four and during this time, Poirot was obliged to take up other cases which, while interesting, Poirot found irksome. In this version, there is no mention of Japp at all.
- Both versions converge at the point where Poirot says "to know is to be prepared" and begins to hypothesise that Number 4 must have a stage background.
- St James's Hospital
Film, TV, or theatrical versions
Agatha Christie's Poirot
- 1924: The Sketch, Issue 1622 (London), 27 February 1924
- 1927: The Big Four, William Collins and Sons (London), 27 January 1927, Hardcover, 282 pp
- 1927: The Big Four, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1927, Hardcover, 276 pp
- 1927: The Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 46 No. 1 (Chicago), November 1927