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The Crag in the Dolomites is a short story by Agatha Christie which was first published in issue 1625 of The Sketch on 19 March 1924. It was the twelfth and the finale 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. For background as to the circumstances of this, see The Big Four. The short story here formed the basis for chapters 17 and 18 of The Big Four ("Number Four Wins a Trick" and "In the Felsenlabyrinth").

In January 1927, the story was published in The Blue Book Magazine. The text in this latter case was the same (with minor abridgements) as in the novelisation and so this can be considered a serialization of the novel rather than a republication of the original short story text as carried in The Sketch.

The original text of the story as found in The Sketch was therefore quite rare until 2016. In that year, HarperCollins published The Big Four (Detective Club Edition), a collection of the "Big Four" short stories as they first appeared in The Sketch.

This is the final Poirot story that Christie wrote for The Sketch. In the Sketch series, this story is preceded by The Dying Chinaman.


From a place of safety in the Ardennes, Poirot plans the destruction of the Big Four and then moves to Italy for the final showdown.

Plot summary[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

The two set off for Italy to Lago di Carrezza, which Hastings thought was 'largo' and 'carrozza'. The two find a café where they go to drink coffee. However, upon their arrival, they see a man jump up from his table, and fiddle with his bread- undoubtedly Number Four. This was all Poirot's plan- to scare a man as soon as he thinks he is safe. But it was an act; the lights went out and Poirot and Hastings are knocked unconscious and dragged away. They are taken to the headquarters of the Big Four- The Felsenlabyrinth. They are confronted by Ryland, Olivier and Number Four, with Li Chang Yen being in China, and later Vera Rossakoff.

It soon becomes clear that the man is not Hercule Poirot, but in fact his twin, Achille. The man has a deeper voice, has no moustache and has a scar on his lip. He makes the four people aware of the fact that the mountain has been cordoned off, and that the police were about to raid the headquarters. Knowing their defeat, the three members retreat to a laboratory and Vera decided to bargain with Poirot. He claimed that he could bring the dead back to life, and she said that she would save them if he returned her dead child. The three run out of the mountain just as it explodes, and Hastings awakes to yet another surprise. Achille Poirot didn't exist- it was Hercule Poirot in disguise all along. He manages to give the countess her child back, who was really left in an orphanage, and the newspapers reveal that Li Chang Yen, the famous Chinese politician, has committed suicide. The story ends on Poirot lamenting that all his other cases will seem boring and tame compared to this case.


Research notes[]

Comparison between the original story and the version in the novel[]

  • The text of the two chapters in the novel is the same as that of the original short story.


Film, TV, or theatrical versions[]

Agatha Christie's Poirot[]

Publication history[]

Original short story text[]

As part of novelisation[]

  • 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
  • 1928: The Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 46 No. 3 (Chicago), January 1928.[1]