The stories feature, with one exception (In a Glass Darkly), Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Parker Pyne, Christie's famed detectives. The collection was not published in the UK and was the first time a Christie book was published in the US without a comparable publication in the UK; however all of the stories in the collection were published in later UK collections (see UK book appearances of stories below).
Stories[edit | edit source]
- The Regatta Mystery
- The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest
- How Does Your Garden Grow?
- Problem at Pollensa Bay
- Yellow Iris
- Miss Marple Tells a Story
- The Dream
- In a Glass Darkly
- Problem at Sea
The Regatta Mystery (the title story) has Mr Parker Pyne catch a diamond thief during regatta festivities at Dartmouth harbor.
The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest concerns how a dead body found its way into the titular chest in the midst of a dance party. Arthur Hastings chronicles Hercule Poirot's unraveling of the mystery.
How Does Your Garden Grow? is a line from the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary", which Poirot is reminded of when visiting a country house with a beautifully maintained garden whose mistress has just died — after writing a cryptic letter requesting his help.
The Problem at Pollensa Bay concerns a mother's dislike for her son's fiancee. The problem is solved (non-violently) by fellow vacationer Parker Pyne.
In Yellow Iris, Poirot follows an anonymous phone call to a restaurant table laden with the favorite flower of a woman who died mysteriously four years before. This story was expanded and made into the full-length mystery Sparkling Cyanide, featuring Colonel Race instead of Poirot.
Miss Marple Tells a Story is written in the first person by the elderly sleuth, who recalls solving (without leaving her own chair) a seemingly impossible murder.
In The Dream, an eccentric millionaire tells Poirot of a troubling dream in which he kills himself - and is found dead a week later.
In a Glass Darkly is the only story in the collection not to feature one of Christie's detectives (it is told by an anonymous narrator), and the only one to invoke the supernatural. Its title alludes to the phrase "Through a glass darkly", used by the Apostle Paul to describe how we currently view the world.
In Problem at Sea, a rich woman is found dead in her cabin on a luxury ship off the shore of Alexandria. The story concludes with Poirot saying: "I do not approve of murder."
Literary reception[edit | edit source]
In The New York Times Book Review for 25 June 1939, Isaac Anderson mentioned by name Miss Marple Tells a Story and went on to say that, "Neither this story nor any of the others is comparable to the longer works of Agatha Christie, but that is scarcely to be expected, for the detective story, more perhaps than any other type of fiction, needs continued suspense to hold the reader's interest, and very few authors have been able to manage that within the limits of the short story."
An unnamed reviewer in the Toronto Daily Star (30 June 1939) wrote, regarding the title story The Regatta Mystery, that "Agatha Christie succeeds in baffling her readers ... [B]ut far from plausible is her solution", and went on generally to say, "The author is handicapped by attempting to compress her plots into 27-odd pages each. Nor has she opportunity for continued suspense."
Publication history[edit | edit source]
- 1939, Dodd, Mead and Company, Hardback, 229 pp
- 1939, Lawrence E. Spivak (New York), Abridged edition, 126 pp
- 1946, Avon Books, Paperback, (Avon number 85)
- 1964, Dell Books, Paperback, (Dell number 7336), 192 pp
First publication of stories in the U.S.[edit | edit source]
- The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest: January 1932 (Volume LIIX, Number 1) issue of the Ladies Home Journal with an illustration by Robert E. Lee.
- How Does Your Garden Grow?: June 1935 (Volume LII, Number 6) issue of the Ladies Home Journal with illustrations by Mead Schaeffer.
- Problem at Pollensa Bay: September 5, 1936 (Volume 13, Number 36) issue of Liberty magazine under the title Siren Business with an illustration by James Montgomery Flagg.
- Yellow Iris: 10 October 1937 edition of the Hartford Courant newspaper under the title "Case of the Yellow Iris" with an uncredited illustration.
- The Dream: 23 October 1937 (Volume 210, Number 17) issue of The Saturday Evening Post with illustrations by F. R. Gruger.
- In a Glass Darkly: 28 July 1934 (Volume 94, Number 4) issue of Collier's Weekly with an illustration by Harry Morse Meyers.
- Problem at Sea: 12 January 1936 issue of the weekly newspaper supplement This Week magazine with an illustration by Stanley Parkhouse.
The original version of The Regatta Mystery was entitled Poirot and the Regatta Mystery and featured Hercule Poirot. The original Poirot version appeared in the 3 May 1936 edition of the Chicago Tribune newspaper with an uncredited illustration and then in The Strand Magazine in July 1936. The story was later rewritten by Christie to change the detective to Parker Pyne for book publication and all subsequent collections until 2008 in both the US and UK contained the Pyne version of the story. The Poirot surfaced only in 2008 as part of the three-volume Harper collection, Agatha Christie: The Complete Short Stories - Masterpieces in Miniature. (The story appears as the postscript to the Poirot volume.)
Miss Marple Tells a Story was specially commissioned by the BBC as a radio play and read by Christie herself on May 11, 1934 on BBC's National Programme. The text was first published in Volume 3, Issue 64 of the weekly UK magazine Home Journal on 25 May 1935 under the title Behind Closed Doors and with an illustration by Michael Bernard. For further publications in the UK, see the applicable UK collections below.
UK book appearances of stories[edit | edit source]
The stories contained in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories appear in the following UK collections:
- The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960): The Dream, and an expanded version of The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest retitled The Mystery of the Spanish Chest.
- Poirot's Early Cases (1974): How Does Your Garden Grow? and Problem at Sea.
- Miss Marple's Final Cases and Two Other Stories (1979): Miss Marple Tells a Story and In a Glass Darkly.
- Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories (1991): The Regatta Mystery, Problem at Pollensa Bay, and Yellow Iris. The Regatta Mystery and Problem at Pollensa Bay had originally appeared in the now out of print collection 13 For Luck! in 1966.
- While the Light Lasts and Other Stories (1997): The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest. This story was later expanded by Christie, with Arthur Hastings removed from it, as "The Mystery of the Spanish Chest" published in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding