Book Review: The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie

Posted April 27, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie, Charles Osborne
Genres: Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, British
Published by Harper Collins on October 14, 2010
Pages: 192
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: The Mysterious Affair at Styles , And Then There Were None, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Secret Adversary, Partners in Crime, Three Blind Mice and Other Stories, The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories

A standalone mystery novel about a pair of “amateur sleuths” in November in South Wales novelized by Charles Osborne from an Agatha Christie play.

My Take

Christie sets a misty, cold scene to start, then continues into an obfuscation of events that Christie makes more of a muddle, as we have no idea why two strangers would cooperate over something as serious as murder.

Blackmail does insert itself into the story in two instances, which ratchets up the tension from the original plotting to cover up the murder. More tension derives from all the red herrings Christie throws in that has me suspecting this one, then that one. Oy.

Christie uses third person global subjective point-of-view as a number of characters have their own events within the story, although the majority of perspectives are from Laura and Starkwedder.

That Richard is quite the unlovable soul. I can’t help but think the world is better off without him. It is interesting that Christie pulls some of this from her own life.

With Cadwallader’s obsession with poetry, how did he ever make sergeant?? As for his bigotry, well, it’s fairly common for villagers to be suspicious of anyone new or strange. Benny has some issues with the family that I didn’t expect her to air. Nor did I expect the frankness from Mrs Warwick Sr.

There is some action in The Unexpected Guest, but it’s really the characters who drive the story. The members of the household and family, events of the past, and the victim. That bloody, horrible victim who set so much in action.

It’s almost Poirot-ish in the psychology of the case.

The Story

On leave and on a mist-shrouded country road, Michael Starkwedder goes off the road into a ditch. Luckily for him, Warwick is already dead or Starkwedder would have been shot at. For sport.

The Characters

A former big-game hunter, Richard Warwick is a bullying meanie ever since he became disabled. Laura Warwick is his long-suffering wife. The avaricious Henry Angell is Richard’s valet and male nurse attendant. Mrs Warwick is Richard’s mother. Miss Bennett, a.k.a. Benny, is the housekeeper, secretary, and an ex-hospital nurse. Jan is Richard’s young half-brother with mental issues. They all live together in Llangelert House. Nurse “Warby” Warburton, previously employed for Richard, was paid for her testimony. Griffiths is the gardener who was sacked.

Major Julian Farrar is a neighbor running for parliament.

Michael Starkwedder is an engineer who works for Anglo-Iranian in Abadan.

Inspector Thomas and the poetry-obsessed Sergeant Cadwallader investigate the murder. Constable Jones. Edmundson is with the police at Norwich.

A child had been run over years ago, and the father, John MacGregor, threatened payback. Sir James Walliston had been one of Angell’s previous patients. Mr Adams is the Warwick solicitor.

The Cover and Title

The cover is grim with the black silhouettes of scattered trees and the multi-story house against the gray background. A red car with its headlights blazing, is pulled over to the side of a lighter gray road that takes up a quarter of the cover. At the top is a side-by-side gradient of a grayed peach-to-light peach in the author’s name. The angled title that follows the road is also a gradient, but angled from left to right, in a pale gray to black. At the very bottom right is a note that this is a novelization by Charles Osborne.

The title is about Starkwedder, The Unexpected Guest.

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