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Three Act Tragedy: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Paperback – Print, June 14, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Hercule Poirot Mysteries
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062073834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062073839
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“There has never been, and probably never will be, a P.I. more fun to observe and listen to, than Hercule Poirot.” (Joseph Wambaugh, New York Times bestselling author)

“Makes uncommonly good reading.” (New York Times)

“Mrs. Christie at the top of her form.” (Dorothy L. Sayers, Sunday Times (London))

From the Back Cover

Sir Charles Cartwright should have known better than to allow thirteen guests to sit down for dinner. For at the end of the evening one of them is dead—choked by a cocktail that contained no trace of poison.

Predictable, says Hercule Poirot, the great detective. But entirely unpredictable is that he can find absolutely no motive for murder.…

More About the Author

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THREE ACT TRAGEDY is one of my favorite "Hercule Poirot" novels. Its characters are intriguing, and the solution to the crime is amazingly clever. Agatha Christie establishes an atmosphere of foreboding in the very first chapter, as the likeable Mr. Satterthwaite (who here fills the role of the absent Captain Hastings) sits on the terrace of the Crows Nest resort, remarking on the personalities and the actions of the people around him, who include the retired actor Sir Charles Cartwright and the respected doctor Sir Bartholemew Strange. From here, the novel takes the form of a "tragedy in three acts," with a new murder in each act and a series of clues, both real and "staged." While some readers may be disappointed to find that the great Poirot is absent from the novel for chapters at a time, there is good reason for this -- and he does indeed play a starring role in the "final act." I believe that anyone who loves Christie and Poirot will love THREE ACT TRAGEDY.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on May 30, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The central characters of this mystery are an aging actor, his twentysomething admirer, and a man who often observes but seldom participates. The three join forces to solve the murders of a physician and a priest. They interview the suspects, conduct meetings, compare notes, and all the while a May-December romance brews between the actor and the youngish female admirer.
Hercule Poirot appears sporadically through the course of the book, but takes no active part in the investigation until the denouement. When a third murder occurs, all the pieces fall into place, and Poirot is able to identify the killer in dramatic fashion.
The mystery is neat, well crafted, and satisfying. The identity of the murderer comes as quite a surprise, and Poirot turns in his usual virtuoso performance. The plot, however, suffers from Poirot's extended absence, and the story has a glacial pace. It took forever to slog through the soporific first two acts.
An interesting revelation comes at the end of the book. Poirot fans know him as a boastful, eccentric dandy whose mastery of the King's English is far from masterful. He has this to say about himself: "It is true that I can speak the exact, the idiomatic English. But, my friend, to speak the broken English is an enormous asset. It leads people to despise you. They say, 'A foreigner. He can't even speak English properly.' It is not my policy to terrify people. Instead, I invite their gentle ridicule. Also, I boast. An Englishman, he says 'A fellow who thinks as much of himself as that cannot be worth much.' That is the English point of view. It is not at all true. And so, you see, I put people off their guard. Besides, it has become a habit."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker on June 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Call me daft, but i really really like this Christie novel.
The characters are great (especially the sublime Mr Satterthwaite, and the wonderfully entertaining Hermoine "Egg" Lytton Gore). Really entertaining, and great to read about. As with many of the best Poirot novels, Poirot himself does not really take a large role until quite a way into the book ("Appointment With Death" "Cat and Among the Pigeons", for example.)
The plot is great, and the motive for the first motive is just sheer originality. (Even though it, and the motives for the other murders, is just a tiny weeny bit thin).
It's a pretty light Christie book, but with a brilliant first death and motive for it. And a great, rather unexpected solution. It may not be her very very best novel, but it is still one of the great ones.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By snowy on February 14, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In murders, nothing should be taken for granted. Especially Agatha Christie's. In several of her novels, she had the investigators looking into a murder that did not exist, a person that did not exist, a motive that did not exist and many other red herrings.
Hence, when the good Rev Stephen Babbington died during a party thrown by retired actor Sir Charles Cartwright, none of the guests present appeared to be who they were supposed to be. There was no motive, nothing was left to show the death was a criminal act.
Some time later, Dr Strange who was also a guest at the party died, this time, the nicotine poisoning was clear.
Told primarily from the perspective of Sir Charles Cartwright, his friend Mr Satterwaithte, and modern girl "Egg" Hermione Lytton Gore, Hercule Poirot took the passive role most of the story. The other three went about gathering clues, examining scenes of the crime and interviewing the usual suspects.
The only problem with such an approach could be revealed by one of Christie's favourite dogma : people do not tell what they saw or heard, they tell what they thought they saw or heard.
In many instances, it was merely written Sir Charles, Mr Satterwaithe and Egg reported what had happened to Poirot rather than describing the words they used to convey the information to Poirot. Therein lies one of the weakness of this book.
A second weakness of the book was some of the offstage investigation work done by Poirot was not revealed to the readers. In stories where the clues for opportunities and accessories were (subtly) evident, motive was not as vital for the readers to correctly guess the solution. However, this story was weak in all but the opportunities department. Only the camouflaged opportunities was masterfully done by Christie for both deaths, requiring people to consider things in the opposite of the conventional direction.
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