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)
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First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2000
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Source ISBN: 9780008196653
Ebook Edition © May 2017 ISBN: 9780007423064
Title Page (#u5a2bc7c3-6a09-5189-9b28-66138b8d4b57)
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)
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.