AgathaChristieSS24: January

 Fanda at ClassicLit is doing a fun thing this year, and I'm going to join in.  It's the Agatha Christie Short Stories of 2024!   She has picked out two short stories to read each month.

The January stories are "The Coming of Mr. Quin"  and "The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman," an early Poirot story, and there's plenty of time for you to join in.

"The Coming of Mr. Quin"
was published in 1923 (says my book; Fanda says '24) and was Christie's first published short story.  All the Quin stories feature him and Mr. Satterthwaite, who provides the point of view.  When Mr. Quin arrives, he doesn't solve a mystery; he simply asks a few questions and inspires others to solve the problem.  In this case, several people are gathered at a country home where, ten years ago, a friend of theirs killed himself.  Why?  The answer is crucial to two other people staying in the house...

I always like Quin stories.  They're fun, and very different from her usual thing.

"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman" is a locked-room mystery.  One Count Foscatini is dead in his flat, and two Italian men had dinner with him and have now disappeared.  It's up to Poirot to figure out who the killer is.

I like this story partly for its description of the fancy modern block of flats that Count Foscatini (who is of course not a count at all) lives in.  They are full-service flats; you order your meals from the kitchen, located for some reason on the top floor, and they send them down in a dumb-waiter, course by course.  Did such a thing ever really exist??  Or was Christie indulging in daydreams about what kind of flat she'd like to live in?  And, since I have read Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, in which he provides a graphic description of a fancy hotel kitchen of about 1930, I'm wondering what this fictional kitchen was like...eek!



  1. Service flats certainly were a thing. They were often occupied by well-to-do unmarried men, as as shopping, cooking and washing up (and housework) was a very time consuming job in those days, and almost impossible to combine with a full time job. Poorer single people often lived in boarding houses if they couldn't live with their parents.

    1. Thank you! I know about boarding houses but full service flats are a bit beyond my imagination...


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