Cover detail of Black Coffee by Agatha Christie

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie

First of all, I need to apologise again for the lateness of this post. We've had a bit of an ill-health January here at Coffee Books and Cake Towers First of all, both me and my lovely husband had the flu, then I had a fall on the ice which led to some rather florid bruises and an extremely swollen ankle. Finally, this week we both succumbed to a sickness bug which is doing the rounds. I will of course spare you the details, because nobody needs to read those. But we are recovering nicely and I am able to eat cake again which is an excellent barometer of wellness.

Read my review of The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding

And I've been meaning to tell you all about my literary weekend! So, for Christmas my lovely husband, bought me a real treat, a trip to see The Mousetrap! The Mousetrap is a murder, mystery play written by Agatha Christie and which has been running since 1952, only breaking its run when Covid hit. I am sworn to secrecy about the play, but I can tell you it was seriously fun. We (me, my lovely husband and my lovely sister) pre-ordered our interval drinks (2 x 'Dame Agatha's Poison' and a beer!) and preceded this with a beautiful meal at Langan's Brasserie, a birthday treat from my sister. I felt very blessed indeed.

And so, today's review feels very appropriate indeed. Black Coffee is another Agatha Christie play, which was accepted for production in 1930 and which moved to St Martin's Theatre (where The Mousetrap resides). The play enjoyed a successful run and, some 40 years after starring as Dr Carelli, Charles Osborne approached the Agatha Christie Estate to write a novelisation of the play.

The Plot

The inventor Sir Claud Amory is left with a bitter taste in his mouth when the formula for his powerful new explosive is stolen - by someone staying in his own house.

Seeking a swift remedy, Sir Claud locks the doors and switches off the lights to allow the thief to replace the formula, no questions asked. But the darkness brings death, and Hercule Poirot is left to unravel a tangle of family feuds, old flames and suspicious guests to find the killer and prevent a catastrophe.

My Thoughts

I would heartily recommend anyone to go and see The Mousetrap, and if you are lucky enough to go, like I was, then take this novel with you as a companion. Written earlier than The Mousetrap, we can already see the early blueprints for some of the characters - a gaudy Italian and a mysterious woman appearing in both plays.

The plot is ingenious, a discovery of poison, an ever-changing coffee cup, a brilliant scientist, and a secret of national importance. Charles Osborne has done a cracking job of novelising Agatha Christie's play. It's all told with Christie's voice, those wonderful 1930's tones, think lawn parties, open French doors, cut grass, and cosy evenings with drawn velvet curtains.

Hercule Poirot is back, and ably assisted by romantic Captain Hastings, on a return visit from Argentina. It's wonderful to see the pair reunited and, as usual, to see Hastings floundering about in the dark. Hercule continues to inspire confidences speaking gently to 'mon petit' in soothing tones. The whole thing is a great success.

And so I would heartily recommend this read for you. After a perfect weekend spent, it was just the tonic.