Motive v. Opportunity: A Miss Marple Short Story
Агата Кристи

Motive v. Opportunity: A Miss Marple Short Story
Agatha Christie

A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Whilst at a meeting at the Tuesday Night Club, attorney Mr Petherick relates an incident involving the late Simon Clode, a wealthy client. Obsessed by his granddaughter’s death, despite the presence of his young niece and nephew, Clode turns to spiritualist Eurydice Spragg to contact his granddaughter in the afterlife. Clode then decided to write a new will, leaving Eurydice as the benefactor excluding his family. To everyone’s surprise, when the envelope containing the will is opened, the paper is blank. The Tuesday Night Club goes on the case…


A Short Story

by Agatha Christie


This short story 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.

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF (

‘Motive v. Opportunity’ was first published in Royal Magazine, April 1928, and in the USA as ‘Where’s the Catch?’ in Detective Story Magazine, 30 June 1928.

This ePub edition published April 2012.

Copyright © 2012 Agatha Christie Ltd.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, 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 e-books.

EPub Edition © 2012 ISBN: 9780007486649

Version: 2017-04-18


Cover (#u190db008-6d75-512a-ad0d-106df9d86b60)

Title Page (#u41b80a15-46f7-5a4a-b332-12fbd4269cc6)


Motive v. Opportunity

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Motive v. Opportunity

‘Motive v. Opportunity’ was first published in Royal Magazine, April 1928, and in the USA as ‘Where’s the Catch?’ in Detective Story Magazine, 30 June 1928.

Mr Petherick cleared his throat rather more importantly than usual.

‘I am afraid my little problem will seem rather tame to you all,’ he said apologetically, ‘after the sensational stories we have been hearing. There is no bloodshed in mine, but it seems to me an interesting and rather ingenious little problem, and fortunately I am in the position to know the right answer to it.’

‘It isn’t terribly legal, is it?’ asked Joyce Lemprière. ‘I mean points of law and lots of Barnaby v Skinner in the year 1881, and things like that.’

Mr Petherick beamed appreciatively at her over his eyeglasses.

‘No, no, my dear young lady. You need have no fears on that score. The story I am about to tell is a perfectly simple and straightforward one and can be followed by any layman.’

‘No legal quibbles, now,’ said Miss Marple, shaking a knitting needle at him.

‘Certainly not,’ said Mr Petherick.

‘Ah well, I am not so sure, but let’s hear the story.’

‘It concerns a former client of mine. I will call him Mr Clode – Simon Clode. He was a man of considerable wealth and lived in a large house not very far from here. He had had one son killed in the War and this son had left one child, a little girl. Her mother had died at her birth, and on her father’s death she had come to live with her grandfather who at once became passionately attached to her. Little Chris could do anything she liked with her grandfather. I have never seen a man more completely wrapped up in a child, and I cannot describe to you his grief and despair when, at the age of eleven, the child contracted pneumonia and died.

‘Poor Simon Clode was inconsolable. A brother of his had recently died in poor circumstances and Simon Clode had generously offered a home to his brother’s children – two girls, Grace and Mary, and a boy, George. But though kind and generous to his nephew and nieces, the old man never expended on them any of the love and devotion he had accorded to his little grandchild. Employment was found for George Clode in a bank near by, and Grace married a clever young research chemist of the name of Philip Garrod. Mary, who was a quiet, self-contained girl, lived at home and looked after her uncle. She was, I think, fond of him in her quiet undemonstrative way. And to all appearances things went on very peacefully. I may say that after the death of little Christobel, Simon Clode came to me and instructed me to draw up a new will. By this will, his fortune, a very considerable one, was divided equally between his nephew and nieces, a third share to each.

‘Time went on. Chancing to meet George Clode one day I inquired for his uncle, whom I had not seen for some time. To my surprise George’s face clouded over. “I wish you could put some sense into Uncle Simon,” he said ruefully. His honest but not very brilliant countenance looked puzzled and worried. “This spirit business is getting worse and worse.”

‘“What spirit business?” I asked, very much surprised.

‘Then George told me the whole story. How Mr Clode had gradually got interested in the subject and how on the top of this interest he had chanced to meet an American medium, a Mrs Eurydice Spragg. This woman, whom George did not hesitate to characterize as an out and out swindler, had gained an immense ascendancy over Simon Clode. She was practically always in the house and many séances were held in which the spirit of Christobel manifested itself to the doting grandfather.

‘I may say here and now that I do not belong to the ranks of those who cover spiritualism with ridicule and scorn. I am, as I have told you, a believer in evidence. And I think that when we have an impartial mind and weigh the evidence in favour of spiritualism there remains much that cannot be put down to fraud or lightly set aside. Therefore, as I say, I am neither a believer nor an unbeliever. There is certain testimony with which one cannot afford to disagree.

‘On the other hand, spiritualism lends itself very easily to fraud and imposture, and from all young George Clode told me about this Mrs Eurydice Spragg I felt more and more convinced that Simon Clode was in bad hands and that Mrs Spragg was probably an imposter of the worst type. The old man, shrewd as he was in practical matters, would be easily imposed on where his love for his dead grandchild was concerned.

‘Turning things over in my mind I felt more and more uneasy. I was fond of the young Clodes, Mary and George, and I realized that this Mrs Spragg and her influence over their uncle might lead to trouble in the future.

‘At the earliest opportunity I made a pretext for calling on Simon Clode. I found Mrs Spragg installed as an honoured and friendly guest. As soon as I saw her my worst apprehensions were fulfilled. She was a stout woman of middle age, dressed in a flamboyant style. Very full of cant phrases about “Our dear ones who have passed over,” and other things of the kind.

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