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August 21, 2009 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Decades after it was written on the eve of World War II, a lost Poirot story by Agatha Christie has been found. Today it is published in the Daily Mail for the first time: The Capture Of Cerberus (scroll half way down the page).

"Hercule Poirot sipped his apéritif and looked out across the Lake of Geneva. He sighed. He had spent his morning talking to certain diplomatic personages, all in a state of high agitation, and he was tired. For he had been unable to offer them any comfort in their difficulties."

The fact that Christie presented the manuscript for publication in 1939 is probably the reason it was never published. Her dictator bore a thinly disguised resemblance to Adolf Hitler, and the work might have been considered too sensitive to release as part of a collection of short stories that appeared in 1940.

John Curran came across it one Friday in November 2005, after being invited to examine Dame Agatha's papers at Greenway, her holiday retreat in Devon. (Source)

Another unpublished story, The Mystery of the Dog's Ball, will be published in Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran, due out on 3rd September.
posted by lioness (19 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, wow. In my freshman year of high school, I made it my mission to read every Christie novel, story, memoir and play. Finding something new is like a Christmas present to me. Thanks for posting this!
posted by xingcat at 4:04 PM on August 21, 2009


The Mystery of the Dog's Ball

I know why that one wasn't published.
posted by msalt at 4:07 PM on August 21, 2009


"The Mystery of the Dog's Ball

I know why that one wasn't published."


Hercule Poirot was testy. He...
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:10 PM on August 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Mystery of the Dog's Ball

I know why that one wasn't published.


To be fair, she was making an attempt at what her publisher thought was the overlooked "Junior Mystery Solvers" demographic. It turns out that little kids deductive skills' are sub-par (to say the least), resulting in dreadfully low scores from her test audience. With comments like "puppys are dumb, why aren't there kitties" and "why won't the puppy play with me, I'm more fun that a stupid ball," her spirits were initially deflated.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:18 PM on August 21, 2009


Me too, xingcat! I'm not making the best progress currently, so another story for the list is putting the completion of my goal just a bit further out of my reach, but I can't be anything but thrilled about this find.
posted by phatkitten at 4:19 PM on August 21, 2009


I was another one who read everything Dame Agatha wrote and to me this story doesn't ring true...she, like other prolific authors, tended to repeat herself and use the same or very similar descriptive phrases. She has a very distinctive rhythm to her prose that I don't hear in this...I'd have to go back and dig up her stories to make a case, but this seems more like a bad pastiche than a new Christie.
posted by agatha_magatha at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2009


neat - lost treasure rules -
only a passing Poirot fan,
but I have family members who are going to freak about this
posted by sloe at 4:25 PM on August 21, 2009


A lost Christie story and a new Pynchon novel in the same month! What a great time to be literate.
posted by MoreForMad at 4:33 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and they're both mystery stories! Coincidence? *three sudden orchestra chords illustrating suspense*
posted by hippybear at 4:39 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was at school in the 1980s our class had to read Christie's Ten Little Niggers. I think the next year the entire collection was replaced with the renamed version. Unbelievable they stayed on the shelf for so long.

Back on topic, how can things like this get "found" after such a long time? I always think Hitler Diaries or The Diary of Jack the Ripper. Geez I'm a cynical bastard.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2009


My copy of the stories is at my sister's, so I can't check, but I wonder how similar this is to the story she did publish with the same title. I understand that the events are different (see Wikipedia on the published story), but some of the phrasing is very similar - see the bit about Poirot's attraction to the Countess, wch seems identical to the other story, as quoted here. Sounds a bit like the new story may have been an abandoned version of the version Christie actually published.

There's also a Guardian article about the finding of the stories.
posted by paduasoy at 5:12 PM on August 21, 2009


paduasoy, based on the excerpt published in the Daily Mail, the two stories seem to be pretty different, although they do share at least two characters, Countess Rossakoff and the dog-catcher, Higgs. But the settings and plots seem to be very different.

Is the Mail going to publish the rest of the story, or is this just a teaser from Curran's book (which, as a hard-core Christie fan, I will clearly be purchasing next month)?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:34 PM on August 21, 2009


The "Source" link says they are going to publish the rest of it. Yes, it's the phrasing rather than events I thought might be similar.
posted by paduasoy at 5:38 PM on August 21, 2009


My mother and I read all of the Agatha Christie mysteries to each other, back when I was 10 or 12. I've recently started re-reading them, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much I still like them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:07 PM on August 21, 2009


Thank you for this! I love Agatha Christie books; I find them reassuring. For a variety of reasons things have not always been easy for me (as is the case for anyone) and I find her works very soothing. When I read her novels or short stories, I trust that everything will wrap up nicely at the end; it's very satisfying when you feel out of control to be able to read something that contains a complete world in which everything actually is connected and fits into some sort of pattern. They are simple enough that reading them is restful and not overtaxing and engaging enough to keep me interested (they are also surprisingly funny in places). Although I already know what happens, I find myself reading them over and over again because I just find them so pleasant and comforting.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:17 PM on August 21, 2009


The Mystery of the Dog's Ball
... because they can.
posted by scruss at 8:28 PM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was another one who read everything Dame Agatha wrote and to me this story doesn't ring true...she, like other prolific authors, tended to repeat herself and use the same or very similar descriptive phrases. She has a very distinctive rhythm to her prose that I don't hear in this...I'd have to go back and dig up her stories to make a case, but this seems more like a bad pastiche than a new Christie.

I would note that since this piece wasn't published, it probably didn't benefit from the input of an editor (except perhaps a bare-bones copy edit for the purposes of publication here).

I've read nearly every Christie myself, and can reread most of them even after knowing the solution--she had gifts for characterization and description that remain underrated today.
posted by Epenthesis at 9:21 PM on August 21, 2009


The Mystery of the Dog's Ball - presumably about the theft of a family jewel
posted by A189Nut at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2009


I made it my mission to read every Christie novel, story, memoir and play.

I trust you were dreadfully bored most of this time. The Marple and Poirots are, IMO, the only things that don't put one to sleep. But boy, do they ever *not* put one to sleep!
posted by DU at 6:07 PM on August 22, 2009


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