Agatha Christie's Poirot: The ABC Murders
January 19, 2022 12:17 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Poirot receives taunting letters from a serial killer who appears to choose his victims and crime scenes alphabetically.
posted by Carillon (6 comments total)
All in all pretty savage in terms of the amount of obfuscation around the death and setting up Cust as the fall guy. I wasn't sure of what to make of Hastings returning from South America and the timeline there, I think it the books it might be better explained? And wasn't he married? Also was it a style at the time or just an Agatha Christie thing where she has her detective set up a couple over the corpse of a murder? It happens a lot, enough to be a trend, but it's a bit surprising sometimes who gets with whom.
posted by Carillon at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2022

She is very romantic - Poirot and Marple play cupid for many couples, and her Mr Quinn is almost always romance-connected.

This one always makes me sad for the hopeful stocking guy.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:54 AM on January 20, 2022

Cynical me, I thought the newfound love connection was a motive for murder. Nicholas Farrell was by far the most famous of the guest stars so I always tend to think they get the plum part of the villain but then I remembered he was the jealous type and the B victim wasn’t sold on him to begin with. So now I’m like, watch out sister.

Was the name of the final victim in the movie theatre ever mentioned? Because he was completely random and his non-alliterative name would be a clue.

Favorite Poirot/Hastings moment: at the B house, Poirot sends Hastings to talk to the sister and Hastings closes the door behind him. The look Poirot gives Hastings when he enters, lol.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:44 AM on January 20, 2022

And wasn't he married?

In the books, Hastings married Dulcie Duveen at the end of The Murder on the Links (1923) and moved to Argentina, from whence he took frequent trips back to England to appear in The Big Four (1927), Peril at End House (1932), Lord Edgware Dies (1933), and The A.B.C. Murders (1936). Christie was never particularly concerned with series continuity, in any case: for example, Hastings calls his wife "Bella" (the name of Dulcie's sister) in Peril at End House.

But in the ITV series the character of Dulcie was eliminated from The Murder on the Links, so it is not clear when or whom Hastings married. He must have been married at some point in the ITV continuity (which is hardly any more consistent than the books continuity), since in Curtain Hastings is a widower.

Also was it a style at the time?

The plot in which the murder causes a young couple to meet, or is an obstacle to their relationship, was, and remains, a common formula—there are writers, for example, Patricia Wentworth or Ellis Peters, for whom almost all their plots take this form.

Was the name of the final victim in the movie theatre ever mentioned?

In the book he is named George Earlsfield.
posted by cyanistes at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2022

The trope is called “serial killings, specific target” and I wondered if Christie invented it. The first writer to use the basic idea was GK Chesterton in 1911 although in his story, it was “mass killing, specific target” (TV Tropes) so maybe she did. I do wish they’d used the last victim’s name as part of Poirot’s reasoning.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:43 AM on January 21, 2022

Christie was definitely familiar with the Chesterton story, because Father Brown's refrain from "The Sign of the Broken Sword":
"Where would a wise man hide a leaf? In the forest."
is echoed by Poirot's
"When do you notice a pin least? When it is in a pincushion!"
in The A.B.C. Murders, and (mis)quoted in The Clocks:
"It is, as it were, the opposite of Chesterton’s, 'Where would you hide a leaf? In a forest.'"
posted by cyanistes at 6:11 AM on January 21, 2022

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