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. In January 1928, the story was published in The Blue Book Magazine.
The short story formed the basis for chapters 17 and 18 of The Big Four ("Number Four Wins a Trick" and "In the Felsenlabyrinth").
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.
(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 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 to this case.
- Hercule Poirot
- Captain Hastings
- Captain Harvey
- Abe Ryland
- Madame Olivier
- Claud Darrell
- Vera Rossakoff
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
- 1924 The Sketch, Issue 1625 (London), 19 March 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
- 1928 The Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 46 No. 3 (Chicago), January 1928