Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today's Short Story by Agatha Christie

Today's Short Story is Wasps' Nest published in 1929, which comes from a little collection I recently bought. It may also be found in Poirot's Early Cases. I have sometimes seen the apostrophe between the p and the s, but it seems to me that it is the nest of more than one wasp!

I saw that Wasps' Nest was going to be on television, so I taped it and thought it would be fun to do a report on the short story and the hour-long television version.

The short story:

Hercule Poirot surprises an old acquaintance, John Harrison with a sudden appearance in his garden. Poirot says,
"You said to me once: 'If you are ever in this part of the world, come and see me.' I take you at your word. I arrive."

Poirot explains that he has come to the neighborhood to investigate a crime which hasn't yet taken place.
"If one can investigate a murder before it has happened, surely that is very much better than afterward. One might even - a little idea - prevent it."
Harrison has a problem with a wasps' nest on his property, and has engaged a friend, Claude Langton to destroy it with 'petrol and the garden syringe.' Poirot questions the method because he was recently at the chemist's and saw that Langton had bought a poison, cyanide of potassium. Harrison says how very odd this is because Langton himself told him that he would 'never dream of using the stuff.'

When it is revealed that Langton used to be engaged to Harrison's fiancée, the reader begins to worry!

I finished this 16 page story, and exclaimed right out loud to Tom, 'a most excellent story!'

As I read along, I thought that the story was familiar, and realized that I had already seen the 1991 television production. But I wanted to see it again, having now read the story. The excellent and surprising twists and turns occur in both the short story and the television production.

The television version:

First of all, dear Hastings is in it, while he wasn't in the story. I love all Poirot tales, but I love them most when Hastings makes an appearance. The actor who portrays him, Hugh Fraser,

is a particularly appealing fellow, and he plays Hastings so beautifully. If you listen to any of the Poirot books on tape, you'll know that some are narrated by David Suchet, who plays Poirot

and others by Fraser. I can't help but think that dear Agatha would have loved the audio and the visual productions of her work. Brilliant, in the way that Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were brilliant in bringing Wooster and Jeeves to life on the television screen. Chief Inspector Japp played by Philip Jackson,

who wasn't in the story, is also in the production, though briefly, as is Miss Lemon played by Pauline Moran.

I suspect they are so appealing to readers that the scriptwriters decided to put them into as many shows as possible.

The story was basically the same, but it was fleshed out a bit to fill the hour time period. Hastings has gotten into photography which helps out in solving the case. Some of the dialogue was exactly as in the story which I found charming. As in all the television Poirot programs, the actors were superb, the period clothes wonderful, and the scenery and buildings divine.


  1. This sounds good - although I must admit I never quite warmed to Hercule Poirot myself, I have seen some of the TV adaptions with David Suchet, and found them really well done.

  2. Oh, Librarian, I am especially fond of Poirot! And David Suchet is so, so amazing. I read once that he uses the accent all day on the set, even when he isn't working just to keep it real.

  3. I do love Hercule and Agatha Christie. I've read so many of her books.

    Thank you so much for your link to Nikki's blog. That was a TON of fun to see! She really went through so much of the same sort of travels of the Canadian Kay that we met in December.

  4. I love Hugh Fraser! So if Suchet and Fraser are together, I'm all for it. Though I wish they wouldn't make so many changes in what I consider to be, mostly, perfect mysteries. I've read all the Christie short stories at one time or another over the years, Nan, but I can never remember them. A perfect excuse to read them all over again.HA!

  5. I love the TV Poirot, although I've read very few of the books; the production is so classy. I only like the ones with Hastings and Japp in. David Suchet is an absolute sweetie. I was hearing him interviewed (Desert Island Discs?) where he explained 'the Poirot voice', which he pitches much higher than his own natural baritone.

  6. Me too,Kay! I'm so pleased you got to read her posting. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live there. I can only watch Hawaii Five-O and dream. :<)

    Yvette, that's what so pleased me about this production. It had some differences, but the main idea and the feeling were the same as the story.

    Call Me Madam, I love David Suchet's commitment to the show. He is one of the best castings ever.

  7. Hi Nan,

    I love all things Agatha Christie and think that David Suchet makes the most perfect Poirot, in fact the whole casting of the show is just about perfect.

    Margaret, over at 'books please', reminded me in a post she wrote yesterday, of a couple of Agatha Christie's other Characters, that I had completely forgotten about ...'Tommy and Tuppence'



  8. Nan, I so enjoyed reading this post about one of Ms. Christie's short stories. I'm so fond of her books and stories and it's wonderful to read of someone who feels the same way.

    I'm sorry I missed this story on TV. I'll have to look for a rerun. The production company usually does an excellent job of adding on or fleshing out her stories without taking away from the basic genius of Christie. And, I really love it when they use so much of the same dialogue.

    Hope your week is going well. I also hope you are able to find another "most excellent story."

  9. Yvonne, thanks for coming by and leaving a note. I read Margaret's post! I have the first T & T book on my shelf just waiting for me.

    Margot, I'm sure you can get any of the Poirots or Marples from Netflix. We gave our N. up a while back, and so what we see is what's available on tv. And yes, we do share this great love of her work!

  10. I love Agatha Christie, I love PBS and its adaptations of her stories and the supurb actors, and I loved this post!

    I have three or four Agatha Christie books on my Kindle -- I'm trying to read through the Miss Marples now -- Hercule will be next.

  11. Sallie, Agatha is just so wonderful, isn't she?! And those PBS programs are just the best. I haven't seen them all by any means but the ones I have seen are terrific.


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