The Affair at the Bungalow is a short story by Agatha Christie which was first published in issue 277 (May 1930) of The Story-Teller magazine in the UK. It is the twelfth 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.
At the dinner party hosted by Colonel Arthur Bantry and his wife everybody takes turns to present a mystery. It's Jane Helier's turn.
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Jane Helier, the beautiful but somewhat vacuous actress is the last to tell a story. Although she attempts to disguise the fact somewhat by using a false name, the others quickly realise that the story is about herself and, slipping up several times, she soon gives up the pretence and continues...
She was on tour in a provincial town when she was summoned to a police station. There had been a burglary at a bungalow and a young man called Leslie Faulkener had been arrested. His story was that he was an unsuccessful playwright and had sent one of his efforts to Jane to read. She had written to him to say that she liked it and to come down to the bungalow to discuss it. He had gone, been shown in by the parlour maid, met Jane and drunk a cocktail. The next thing he knew was that he was waking up by the roadside. He staggered along and was quickly picked up by the police.
The bungalow belonged to a Sir Herman Cohen, a rich city gent, and in it he installed his mistress. She was an actress called Mary Kerr, the wife of another actor, called Claude Leeson (although Jane admits these are not the participant’s real names). Someone calling herself Miss Kerr had rung up the police, told them the bungalow had been burgled and described Leslie Faulkener as having visited there earlier that day but having been refused admittance. He was later seen by a maid as gaining entrance through a window to steal Miss Kerr’s jewellery.
The police did indeed find the bungalow rifled and a large quantity of jewels missing. Miss Kerr soon returned but denied any knowledge of the affair or even of having rung up the police. Both she and the maid had been summoned away for the day on separate false pretexts and had never been in the bungalow when Mr Faulkener either visited, whether by invitation or not. When Jane was brought face to face with Faulkener at the police station, he stated that this was not the woman he met at the bungalow and the note was proven not to be in Jane’s handwriting. Faulkener was released through lack of evidence. Sir Herman tried to hush the matter up but failed and his wife started divorce proceedings when she found out about the affair with the actress.
The people at the Bantry’s try to guess the solution but fail and are annoyed when Jane confesses that she doesn’t know the true solution herself. The group disperse for the night, their six stories told and Miss Marple whispers something in Jane’s ear that causes the actress to cry out in shock. Later she confesses to Mrs Bantry that the story she told never happened but Jane was thinking of carrying out such a scheme against an actress who enticed one of her previous husbands away from her. She is now having an affair with a city knight in precisely the way that Jane recounted and she and her understudy concocted the set-up described to expose her. Miss Marple’s warning was to not put herself at the mercy of the understudy should she prove untrustworthy in the future. Jane decides not to proceed with the plan – there might be other Miss Marples out there who would find her out...
- Jane Marple
- Dolly Bantry
- Arthur Bantry
- Dr. Lloyd
- Henry Clithering
- Jane Helier
- Mrs Pebmarsh
- Netta Greene
- Claud Averbury
- Sir Joseph Salmon
Film, TV, or theatrical versions
- 1930 The Story-Teller Magazine (London), issue 277 May 1930
- 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