The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge is a short story written by Agatha Christie, which was first published in The Sketch in May 1923 in the U.K. The story was published in the U.S. in The Blue Book Magazine in June 1924 as "The Hunter's Lodge Case". In 1924 also, the story appeared as part of the anthology Poirot Investigates.

Synopsis

Mr Roger Havering requests Poirot to investigate the murder of his uncle at his hunting lodge in Derbyshire. Poirot is ill in bed and so Hastings travels there while Poirot solves the case by remote control.

Plot summary

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Poirot is ill in bed with influenza when he and Hastings receive a visit from a Mr Roger Havering, the second son of a Baronet who has been married to an actress for some years. Mr Havering stayed at his club in London the previous evening and the following morning receives a telegram from his wife telling him his Uncle, Harrington Pace, was murdered the previous evening and to come at once with a detective. As Poirot is indisposed, Hastings sets off with Havering for the scene of the crime – Derbyshire.

Mr Pace, an American by birth and the brother of Mr Havering's mother, owns an isolated hunting lodge on the Derbyshire moors. When Hastings and Havering arrive there they meet Inspector Japp as Scotland Yard has been called in on the case. As Havering goes off to answer questions, Hastings speaks with the housekeeper, Mrs Middleton, who tells him she showed a black-bearded man into the house the previous evening who wanted to see Mr Pace. She and Mrs Havering were outside the room that the two men were talking in when they heard a shot. The door to the room was locked but they found the window outside open and gaining entry found Mr Pace dead, shot by one of two pistols on display in the room and the used pistol now missing, together with the black-bearded man. Mrs Middleton sends Mrs Havering to see Hastings and she confirms the housekeeper's story. Japp also confirms Havering's alibi for his train times to London and his attendance at the club but soon the missing pistol is found dumped in Ealing. Hastings wires to Poirot with the facts but Poirot is only interested in the clothes worn by and descriptions of Mrs Middleton and Mrs Havering. Poirot wires back instructions to arrest Mrs Middleton at once but she disappears before this instruction can be carried out. Upon investigation, no trace can be made of her actual existence, either from the agency she was employed from or the methods by which she reached Derbyshire. Once Hastings is back in London, Poirot gives Hastings his theory – Mrs Middleton never existed. She was Mrs Zoe Havering in disguise. No one except the couple can ever have claimed to have seen the two women together at the same time. Havering did go to London with one of the pistols which he dumped and Mrs Havering shot her uncle with the other pistol. Japp is convinced of the theory but doesn't have enough evidence to make an arrest. The Haverings inherit their uncle's fortune but natural justice sets in and the two are soon killed in an aeroplane crash.

Characters

References to other works

Research notes

Film, TV, or theatrical versions

Agatha Christie's Poirot

A television film with David Suchet as Poirot was produced as episode 11 of Series 3 of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot, first broadcast on 10 March 1991. The adaptation is faithful to the main premise of the original story in the way the crime is committed. But Poirot does not stay in London, he actually travels to the Hunter's Lodge. The denouement and outcome is also different.

Publication history

  • 1923 The Sketch, Issue 1581 (London), 16 May 1923
  • 1924 Blue Book Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 2, June 1924 (as "The Hunter's Lodge Case")
  • 1924 Poirot Investigates, Bodley Head (London), 1924
  • 1925 Poirot Investigates, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1925
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