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The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan is a short story written by Agatha Christie. It was first published in The Sketch in March 1923 in the U.K. as "The Curious Disappearance of the Opalsen Pearls." The story was published in the U.S. in The Blue Book Magazine in October 1923 under the title "Mrs Opalsen's Pearls". In 1924, the story appeared as part of the anthology Poirot Investigates.

SynopsisEdit

Mrs Opalsen's precious pearls have been stolen but Celestine, the maid who was supposed to watch them, had not left the room where the jewel case was kept.

Plot summaryEdit

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Poirot and Hastings are staying at the Grand Metropolitan hotel in Brighton where they meet Mr and Mrs Opalsen. He is a rich stockbroker who amassed a fortune in the oil boom and his wife collects jewellery using the proceeds. She offers to show Poirot her pearls and goes to fetch them from her room but they have been stolen.

Poirot is asked to assist. There have only been two people in the room since the pearls were last seen - Mrs Opalsen's maid, Celestine, and the hotel chambermaid. Celestine has orders to remain in the room all of the time that the chambermaid is there. Both girls are questioned and both blame the other. The hotel room has a side room where Celestine sleeps and a bolted door which leads to the room next door. The two maids were in sight of each other all the time except for two pauses of between twelve and fifteen seconds apiece when Celestine went into her room – not enough time to extract the jewel case from the drawer, open it, take the jewels and return the case. Both are searched but nothing is found. Both rooms are then searched and the missing pearls are found underneath Celestine's mattress.

The case is seemingly over but not for Poirot. He tells Hastings the newly-found necklace is a fake. They go into the room next to Mrs Opalsens. It is all dusty but there is a rectangular patch free of dust. He questions the chambermaid and the valet who looks after Mr Opalsen and asks them if they have ever seen before a small white card he has found. Neither has.

Poirot rushes to London but before he does, he asks Hastings to clean his jacket which has some white dust on it.

The next day Poirot is back. He breaks the news to Hastings and the delighted Opalsens that the case is solved and the real pearls found. The chambermaid and the valet were a pair of international jewel thieves – the card he gave them then had their fingerprints on it which he gave to Japp for testing. Japp had followed Poirot down and had arrested them. The pearls had been found in the valet's possession.

The valet was on the other side of the bolted door and the chambermaid passed him the case in the first interval when Celestine was in her room. When she next went in there, the chambermaid returned the empty case to the drawer whose runners she had treated with French chalk to make them open silently. The chambermaid had also neglected to dust the empty room next door. When the valet, her accomplice, set the jewel case down, it had left a mark.

CharactersEdit

Research notesEdit

  • Opalsen mentions that money is tight in the city because of "EPD". EPD is Excess Profits Duty, introduced during World War One to rein in profiteering. The rate was altered several times in the 1920s.

Film, TV, or theatrical versionsEdit

Agatha Christie's PoirotEdit

A television film with David Suchet as Poirot was produced as episode 8 of Series 5 of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot, first broadcast on 7 March. The adaptation is faithful to the main premise of the original story with respect to how the pearls were taken. However the rather barebones original story had to be embellished for dramatic purposes. The backgrounds of some characters were changed and other characters added as potential suspects. How the criminals were caught and the pearls recovered was also changed.

Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and MarpleEdit

The novel was adapted as an anime film for television as episode 1 of the NHK anime series Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple and broadcast 4 July 2004.

Publication history Edit

  • 1923 The Sketch, Issue 1572 (London), 14 March 1923 (as "The Curious Disappearance of the Opalsen Pearls")
  • 1923 Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 37 No. 6 (Chicago), October 1923 (as "Mrs Opalsen's Pearls")
  • 1924 Poirot Investigates, Bodley Head (London), 1924
  • 1925 Poirot Investigates, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1925
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