The Last Seance is a short story written by Agatha Christie which was first published in the U.S. in Ghost Stories in November 1926. In the U.K., the story was published in The Sovereign Magazine in March 1927. In 1933, the story was compiled as part of the collection The Hound of Death and Other Stories. In the U.S. the story came out as part of Double Sin and Other Stories in 1961.
Simone, a famous Parisien medium is persuaded to conduct one last seance despite her misgivings and sense of impending danger.
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Raoul Daubreuil is a man in France, who is in love with Simone, a medium who has been wearied over the years by all the Seances she has performed. They live in a flat, along with their servant Elise. Throughout the seances, the most strange were the ones performed for Madame Exe, a woman who lost her daughter Amelie. In these seances, Amelie's materializations have been very clear and accurate. However, this day is the day where she performs her last seance, and for Madame Exe. Arriving in their flat, Raoul comforts Simone and, despite refusing to do the seance, he convinces her to do it. She is further convinced when Madame Exe arrives, and reminds her of her promise. Upon arriving in the room where the seance will take place, Madame Exe states that she wants to make sure that the last seance is not a scam, and asks to tie Raoul to a chair. He agrees, but tells Madame Exe that the materialization must not be touched at all, in case Simone is harmed. Madame Exe reluctantly agrees.
Simone hides behind a curtain for the seance, and the materialization of Amelie starts to form from a mist. This materialization is the most vivid of them all, causing great surprise to Raoul and Madame Exe. However, Madame Exe rushes towards the materialization and hugs it, causing Simone to scream in pain. Raoul shouts at Madame Exe to stop touching the materialization, but instead she picks up the ghostly form of Amelie and runs off with it, wanting Amelie to be hers forever. As Raoul attempts to untie his bonds, Simone shrivels and dies. After untying himself, the tragedy ends with Elise and Raoul crying over the bloodstained corpse of Simone.
In 1986 the short story av adapted into an episode of the television series Shades of Darkness.
The short story was also adapted by BBC Radio 4 in March 2003. The adaptation was given a contemporary setting.
- 1926: Ghost Stories magazine, Vol. 1 issue 5, November 1926, Constructive Publishing Co., Dunellin, New Jersey, under the title The Woman Who Stole a Ghost.
- 1927: The Sovereign Magazine, issue 87, March 1927, under the title of The Stolen Ghost. The illustrator of the story was not named.
- 1933: The Hound of Death and Other Stories, Odhams Press (London), October 1933
- 1951: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, vol. 2 no. 2, April 1951.
- 1954: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Australia), no. 1, 1954.
- 1961: Double Sin and Other Stories, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1961.
- 1971: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, vol. 58 no. 5, whole no. 336, Nov 1971.
- 2019: The Last Séance: Tales of the Supernatural, HarperCollins (London), 2019.
- Pulp Magazine Project page on Ghost Stories This website states that this story is the first by Christie to be published in the U.S. but many of her stories were already published by e.g. The Blue Book Magazine from 1923. This could be, however the first time a Christie story is published in the U.S. before the U.K.
- See the listing at Galactic Central