The Blood-Stained Pavement is a short story written by Agatha Christie and first published in The Royal Magazine in March 1928 in the UK. In the U.S., the story was first published in Detective Story Magazine in June 1928. It is the fourth 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.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
At the fourth meeting of the Tuesday Night Club, Joyce Lemprière presents her mystery about a time when she saw drops of blood on the pavement outside a Cornish inn. The blood subsequently disappeared. Did she really see the blood or didn't see?
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Joyce Lemprière's story also takes place in Cornwall, in the picturesque village of Rathole. One morning, she was painting a picture of the Polharwith Arms when two cars drew up within a couple of minutes of each other. The first contained a couple and the second a scarlet-dressed woman. The man in the couple, "Denis" recognised the lone woman as "Carol", an old friend, and introduced her to his somewhat plain wife, "Margery".
As Joyce worked on her canvas she overheard the conversation of the three people and Denis's suggestion of hiring a rowboat to take them round the coast to a local cave. Carol, disliking boats, agreed to walk to the spot and meet the couple there. That afternoon Joyce had returned to her canvas in front of the pub, spotted two bathing suits drying in the sun from the balcony of the pub and assumed that the three people had returned. A local man engaged her in somewhat unwanted conversation and distracted her from her work. Before she realised what she had done, she seemed to have painted in bloodstains on the pavement in front of the pub and was astonished to find that she had captured reality – there did seem to be bloodstains on the pavement that were not there a short time before. Before she could take any action, Denis emerged from the pub and asked Joyce and the local man if they had seen Carol return. The three had met at the cave, as agreed, and Carol had supposedly walked back to Rathole but not arrived, although her car was still there. Denis and Margery drove off and Joyce inspected the pavement – only to find the bloodstains gone.
Two days later, she read in the paper that Margery had disappeared while bathing in the sea and a week later her body was found washed up with a blow to the head, supposedly caused when she dived into the water on some rocks.
The men in the Tuesday Club feel that there is very little in the story to go on but Miss Marple points out that they do not appreciate the point about clothes as she and Joyce do. The bloodstains were on the pavement, dripping from one of the bathing suits which was scarlet in colour. The criminals didn't realise that when they hung them up to dry. Joyce confirms her point and finishes the story: a year later, at an east coast resort, she saw the same set up again with Denis, Carol and another woman, supposedly Denis' new wife. Although she didn't know exactly what was happening Joyce went to the police station and reported suspicious activity. A Scotland Yard inspector was already there investigating Denis who, under several names, had married women, insured their lives for large sums, and then killed them in a conspiracy with Carol – his real wife. The woman that Joyce saw in Rathole at the time that the bloodstains were on the pavement wasn't Margery but Carol in disguise. When they killed the real Margery during the trip to the cave, blood must have got itself onto the scarlet bathing suit.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Miss Jane Marple
- Raymond West
- Joyce Lemprière
- Henry Clithering
- Dr Pender
- Mr Petherick
- Captain Denis Dacre
- Margery Dacre
- Carol Davis
- Mrs Green
Locations[edit | edit source]
Research notes[edit | edit source]
- Compare the crime here with that in Evil Under the Sun
- Miss Marple: "There is a great deal of wickedness in village life."
Film, TV, or theatrical versions[edit | edit source]
Publication history[edit | edit source]
- 1928 The Royal Magazine (London), issue 353 March 1928 - with illustrations by Gilbert Wilkinson
- 1928 Detective Story Magazine (New York), Volume 102 Number 2, 23 June 1928 - as "Drip! Drip!"
- 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