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Spider's Web Hardcover – November 11, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Osborne completes his homage to Christie with this third and final adaptation of an original Christie play, following Black Coffee (1998) and The Unexpected Guest (1999). Though the play was written in 1954, the story suffers little from the passage of time, and aside from the static setting, reads well as a novel. Christie's exquisite timing and clever sleight-of-mind tricks are a delight, while Osborne has the good sense not to embroider the tale. A typical closed cast of characters occupies the temporary country home of Henry and Clarissa Hailsham-Brown: the seemingly scatterbrained Clarissa; her stepdaughter, Pippa; the odious Oliver Costello, who has married Pippa's mother; Sir Rowland Delahaye, Clarissa's godfather and a man of honor; an outspoken gardener; a butler; a cook; and Inspector Lord, the rather diffident policeman. When Clarissa discovers a body in the drawing room, she decides that it mustn't be found there. Her plans to dispose of the body are interrupted by the arrival of a rather diffident policeman, Inspector Lord, who has come to check out an anonymous tip that a murder has been committed. Christie's bag of tricks includes hidden doorways, secret drawers, French windows and concealed identitiesDall used to amusing effect. As with Osborne's previous novelizations, this is a welcome addition to the Christie canon and is sure to reach mystery bestseller lists. The cover, with a spider in a web against a green faux-marble background, is as catchy as they come. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This third and last of Christie's plays to be novelized by Osborne--following Black Coffee (1998) and The Unexpected Guest (1999)--betrays its origins in its crisp dialogue and smooth action. Twists, turns, and things that are not what they seem abound, of course, as Clarissa, the younger second wife of Henry Hailsham-Brown, amuses herself in deception and flirtation in their rented country home. However, when the current spouse of Henry's first wife, an odious sort, turns up dead at her very feet, Clarissa must be resourceful indeed. Her young stepdaughter hated and feared the dead man, and Henry himself is bringing home a diplomat on a secret mission, so the whole thing must be cleared up posthaste. Despite Clarissa's best efforts, the police show up, and a series of deceptions within deceptions foment a neat, exaggerated, and quite attractive puzzle. Another Christie on the bookshelf, huzzah. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (November 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312266502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312266509
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

In fact, there is very little original matter in the whole story.
Kindle Customer
It is definitely a period piece--written in 1954, but clearly harking back to the early 30s in mannerisms, if not in fact.
kellytwo
Spider's Web is a light, easy, and fun read that encompasses all the elements of an English houseparty.
Antoinette Klein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In Cobblestone Court, Henry and Clarissa Hailsham-Brown host three guests: Sir Rowland Delahaye, Hugo Birch, and Jeremy Warrender. However, Clarissa soon discovers the corpse of an unknown guest in the drawing room. Knowing her spouse plans to bring home a bigwig, Clarissa decides to hide the body until she can get around to figuring what to do next. In the course of temporarily disposing the deceased, police Inspector Lord arrives, stating he received a tip that murder occurred here.

Clarissa revises her plan to include keeping the police from knowing that someone was in deed murdered in her home. She continues to serve as a gracious host to her guests and her spouse's dinner company while at the same time deciding to uncover the identities of the body and the killer by herself.

SPIDER'S WEB, the third adaptation of an Agatha Christie play to a novel (see BLACK COFFEE and THE UNEXPECTED GUEST), is pure 100-proof Christie and not lite. The story line contains the elements that have made the renowned author so beloved. Fans of Ms. Christie and anyone who enjoys a featherbrained English amateur sleuth will fully enjoy this tale that shows Charles Osborne fully understands the grandmistress of mystery.

Harriet Klausner
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on November 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the 3rd and final Osborne adaptation of an Agatha Christie play into novel form. I liked it the best of the three. It reads more like a play than a novel--so if you are expecting the normal Christie novel, you may very well be disappointed. However, if you have read the novels, this is a lovely addition to your list of Christie's and a rare opportunity to envision her plays. True, the plays could just as easily have been bound and published. But, Osborne has apparently done little, if anything, to detract from the plays themselves. So, IMHO, he has done a great service both to Agatha and to the mystery reading public by publishing these works. As for the content, this particular work is a riot! I loved the story, the twists and turns (and there are many of them), the cleverness, etc. It IS after all, a Christie! And a very good one at that. Enjoy!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Klein on December 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
and Charles Osborne has transcribed it beautifully in his third novel adaptation of Christie's plays. Spider's Web is a light, easy, and fun read that encompasses all the elements of an English houseparty. The mansion complete with French doors for easy entrance by a murderer, the lovable hostess, the diverse houseguests, the professional detective, the required red herrings, the secret panel, and just for good measure, a sympathetic child---all combine for a delightful mystery.
Clarissa is the beloved mistress of the manor, and her self-proclaimed duty is to hide a body she finds in her parlor so that it won't interfere with her distinguished husband's entertaining a V.I.P. later in the evening. Into her web of lies and deceit she brings her three doting houseguests, a brusque female gardener, and the butler. Truth will out in the end, and whether you guess the culprit or not, you will enjoy this fast-paced, delightful evening with the British upper class.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By kellytwo on January 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The question here is: Is watered-down Agatha Christie as satisfying as the real thing? My answer is: Not hardly.
Had this book been a 150-page $4.95 paperback, I might have a different opinion; as a stretched-out 219-page hard-cover selling for $23.95, it's a wonderful lesson in padding. I read it in one sitting--slightly less than two hours--and found myself afterwards wondering why.
I'm not sure that novelizing a play is a really worthwhile adventure. On stage, after all, one doesn't need descriptions of things or people in order to comprehend or understand them. One of Christie's specializations was her depth of characterization, and this is totally lacking here. There is almost no description--of anything, including motivation, which was another of her strengths.
There is humor in this tale of a British Country House party, with the appropriate twists and turns to the plot to make it an engaging and different sort of tale. It is definitely a period piece--written in 1954, but clearly harking back to the early 30s in mannerisms, if not in fact. When a murder happens, it nearly turns into a farce, what with the body disappearing on a regular basis.
As a light, quick read, it is enjoyable, but I kept thinking that, because of its simplicity, it could almost be more successful if marketed as a young adult or new reader book. On the other hand, if the book brings new readers to Christie's large catalog, nicely listed at the beginning of the book, then it will have succeeded admirably. The three stars I've given the book are in no way to be construed as disrespectful of Dame Agatha or her work, or that of the novel-izer, Charles Osborne, who has previously done the same to two of Christie's other plays. Rather, they are an expression of dissatisfaction with the publisher for the stretching out and over-pricing of this volume.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Agatha Christie's book Spider's Web is a great companion to And then There Were None. Clarissa invites three houseguests to her wonderful elegant country mansion just out side out of London. The house is full of happiness. Clarissa is telling everyone the game of supposing she plays. Like suppose I found a dead body in the house what would I do. Or what if the house got robbed. But all fun games soon turn to seriousness when she finds a dead body in her drawing room. She tries to hide the body trying to save her husbands foreign office career and tries to get the guests to help and not tell. But suddenly a police inspector knocks on the door saying there has been a call that there was a murder here. Will the inspector find the body or will Clarrissa's lies keep the police away and have you spinning a round in a Spider's Web. 'I suppose when you're making things up you get carried away and that makes it sound more convincing.' Will she get caught in the Web? With every lie she goes deeper and deeper.

I liked this book because it kept on getting interesting causing this book to be a fast read. Almost every chapter a new character walks into the spider's web and Clarissa makes a desperate lie to get out of the web.
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