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Black Coffee
Агата Кристи

Black Coffee
Agatha Christie

Charles Osborne

A full-length Hercule Poirot novel, adapted from Agatha Christie’s stage play by Charles OsborneSir Claud Amory’s revolutionary new formula for a powerful explosive is stolen. Locking his house-guests in the library, Sir Claud switches off the lights to allow the thief to replace the formula, no questions asked. When the lights come on, he is dead, and Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings have to unravel a tangle of family feuds, old flames and suspicious foreigners to find the killer and prevent a global catastrophe.BLACK COFFEE was Agatha Christie’s first playscript, originally performed in 1930 and made into a now rarely-seen film the following year. Combining her typically beguiling plot and sparkling dialogue with his own faithful narrative, Charles Osborne’s novelisation is ‘A worthy addition to the Christie canon’ (The Spectator)

Copyright (#ulink_f71afdde-6b2c-5ffa-9c81-57fef9c992ab)

Harper an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF

www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)

First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2000

Black Coffee™ is a trade mark of Agatha Christie Limited and Agatha Christie

and the Agatha Christie Signature are registered trade marks of Agatha Christie Limited in the UK and elsewhere. Copyright © 2000 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved.

www.agathachristie.com (http://www.agathachristie.com)

Cover by crushed.co.uk (http://www.crushed.co.uk) © HarperCollins/Agatha Christie Ltd 2017

Agatha Christie asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008196653

Ebook Edition © May 2017 ISBN: 9780007423064

Version: 2017-03-30

Contents

Cover (#u58dedccd-7182-55b3-9eb6-c5a763a7ac8c)

Title Page (#u5a2bc7c3-6a09-5189-9b28-66138b8d4b57)

Copyright (#ue4a9095d-e0f5-5c2e-9fb5-ee0cf0b9169d)

Foreword (#u2ce01d8b-b58d-5097-a5eb-6ec96f4ac161)

Chapter 1 (#u55569632-fc1b-51a3-8001-3ce9234faf5e)

Chapter 2 (#u8644bfec-909b-5f16-9778-344049bb9ab1)

Chapter 3 (#u606ebb19-b4e8-543a-82d0-74c1b5920990)

Chapter 4 (#u07f79e09-031f-541c-9191-300c4dfea8db)

Chapter 5 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 6 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 7 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 8 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 9 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 10 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 11 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 12 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 13 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 14 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 15 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 16 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 17 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 18 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 19 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 20 (#litres_trial_promo)

Also by Agatha Christie (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

FOREWORD (#ulink_49fdee7e-fa64-5df1-a7f0-d6411bfc10b3)

It was almost certainly because of her dissatisfaction with Alibi, someone else’s stage adaption in 1928 of her novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, that my grandmother Agatha Christie decided to write a play of her own, which is something she had not previously attempted. Black Coffee, featuring her favourite detective, Hercule Poirot, was finished by the summer of 1929. But when Agatha showed it to her agent, he advised her not to bother submitting it to any theatre as, in his opinion, it was not good enough to be staged. Fortunately, a friend who was connected with theatrical management persuaded her to ignore such a negative advice, and the play was accepted for production in 1930 at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage, London.

Black Coffee was favourably received, and in April of the following year transferred to the West End, where it had a successful run of several months at the St Martin’s Theatre (where a later Christie play, The Mousetrap, began a much longer run in 1952). In 1930, Poirot had been played by a popular actor of the time, Francis L. Sullivan, with John Boxer as his associate Captain Hastings; Joyce Bland played Lucia Amory, and Shakespearian actor Donald Wolfit was Dr Carelli. In the West End production, Francis L. Sullivan was still Poirot, but Hastings was now played by Roland Culver, and Dr Carelli by Dino Galvani.

Some months later, Black Coffee was filmed in England at the Twickenham Studios, directed by Leslie Hiscott and starring Austin Trevor, who had already played Poirot in the film version of Alibi. The play remained a favourite with repertory companies for some years, and in 1956 Charles Osborne, then earning his living as a young actor, found himself playing Dr Carelli in Black Coffee in a summer season at Tunbridge Wells.

Nearly forty years later, after he had in the intervening years not only become a world authority on opera but had also written a splendid book entitled The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie, Osborne remembered the play. He suggested to Agatha Christie Limited (who control the copyright of her works) that, twenty years after the author’s death, it would be marvellous to give the world a new Agatha Christie crime novel. We agreed enthusiastically, and the result is this Hercule Poirot murder mystery, which to me reads like authentic, vintage Christie. I feel sure Agatha would be proud to have written it.
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