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Review – “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim” by Agatha Christie

***MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***

When one is in the midst of a pandemic and wants to stay sane and safe, shopping and books become a savior. Browsing through Amazon, I found a lot of ebooks for under 20 bucks, and the next I know, I am down with a few hundred and up with tens of new books to read. The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim by Agatha Christie is a short story featuring the famous detective Poirot. I hadn’t known this was a short story before I bought it but nevertheless, I enjoy reading Ms. Christie’s works. This one was a breeze, I finished it in under an hour while my toddler napped.

Inspector Japp visits Poirot and Hastings to tell them about the disappearance of a man off the face of Earth. Seen last by his household, the man in question, a wealthy financier, Mr. Davenheim, goes missing one fine day with shreds of evidence pointing towards murder. While Japp inclines towards evidence, Poirot seems bent on proving the fact that the evidence is only as valuable as the mind perceives, in short, with the facts present, he can solve the case without leaving his apartment in a week if all the developments are conveyed to him. What he needs are only his “little grey cells”. With the wager on, Japp sends across whatever information they found and the ongoing developments in the case to Poirot for him to prove his brain’s prowess and mettle. Does Poirot crack the case without leaving his house? It is for you to find out.

Well, what do I say? Narrated by Hastings, the story was so short, I didn’t even get to gather my thoughts and I was at the end. It is not your usual Christie mystery and doesn’t have any of the elements that her other famous works have. For starters, the whole story has only 3 active characters, that of Poirot, Hastings, and Japp. Next, there is no active crime scene or investigation done by Poirot. It is rather disappointing to feel no thrill while reading it. There is no questioning (barring one which Poirot asks Japp to get an answer to from the missing man’s wife, no digging around (the only thing that Poirot digs are into his grey cells) no Poirot antics (no playfully patronizing Hastings for his lack of brainpower in comparison to himself) and no chasing the criminal (physically, he is indeed going after the criminal in theory). However, I feel the point of the story is completely different. Rather than the mystery itself, the thing that Christie drives home is the fact that Poirot is a superhuman when it comes to investigating a crime. It seems like the book was written to add another feather to Poirot’s already full hat.

It is a missable work IMO. Get it if you are getting it really cheap like I got or only if you are a sucker for Agatha Christie.

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