Agatha Christie: Murder on the Links

 

Renowned fiction crime writer Agatha Christie was born in 1890 in Torquay. Her first novel was published in 1920, entitled The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where detective Hercule Poirot was introduced. Her third novel, The Murder on the Links, followed in 1923. Poirot featured again, alongside his sidekick Arthur Hastings.
Murder on the Links

 

The plot

Murder on the Links is set in northern France and is based on a real-life French murder case. The plot focuses on a wealthy man, Monsieur Renauld, who is found murdered on the edge of a golf course, his body dumped face down in a shallow grave.

Poirot and Hastings are called to France by Renauld, but they arrive after the brutal killing has taken place. Renauld’s wife was also attacked and tied up. She claims that a pair of thugs came in the middle of the night and took her husband away, and that he was later found with fatal stab wounds to his back on the golf course next to their sprawling property.

Poirot and Hastings are unsure whether to believe Madame Renauld and set about digging deeper into the crime. They discover that Monsieur Renauld had changed his will recently, leaving his estate to his wife and cutting his son out. Renauld had an argument with his son, prior to him going away to South America. A neighbour, Madame Daubreuil, apparently visited Monsieur Renauld that night, and was also found to have made a large deposit to her bank account in recent weeks.

Monsieur Renauld’s body is discovered wearing his son’s coat, with a love-letter in the pocket. Could Renauld have had a secret lover, and might it have been Madame Daubreuil? At the scene of the crime, part of a cheque is also found with the name Duveen on it. Who is this?

As the case develops, another murdered corpse is discovered in a copycat stabbing. Renauld’s murder also has similarities with a stabbing that took place 22 years earlier.

In a subplot, Hastings also finds romance.

 

Reception and literary significance

Murder on the Links gained positive acclaim from many sources. Agatha Christie was compared to Sherlock Holmes writer Arthur Conan Doyle and readers remarked how the character of Poirot made a pleasant change from his predecessors, even if there were hints of satire in him.

Reviewers concluded that the novel had peculiar complications, where the reader would have to be very clever to guess who committed the crime. The Times Literary Supplement declared it an enthralling mystery of an unusual kind.

Agatha Christie also received applause for the way she expertly constructed and unravelled the mystery, where fresh interests and new entanglement repeatedly ensued.

The novel was adapted for television and the radio in later years. It’s believed that the phrase ‘scene of the crime’ was first used in this novel.

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