Tommy Mayfield is a British industrialist who has developed a new fighter plane. Up to now he has paid all development costs himself and he very much wants the government to contribute. It is reluctant to do so because of an apparent indiscretion some years before when Mayfield was supposed to have sold heavy artillery to the Japanese. In order to get back into the government's good books, he decides to lay a trap for Mrs. Vanderlyn, a known Nazi sympathizer and possible spy. The bait is the plans for the new fighter but Mayfield's wife is so concerned that she asks Hercule Poirot to spend the weekend at their house to make sure Vanderlyn doesn't get away with anything. Written by
This is one of the episodes where the side stories and by play between the characters are more interesting than the mystery itself. At the start of the story Miss Lemon and Poirot have a brief exchange about whether or nor he will accept anonymous calls and he says he will which appalls Miss Lemon since with no name she will not be able to file away the information. She later receives a phone call from a "Miss Smith" which she puts through. Poirot agrees to meet the caller at a zoo. The scene that follows is a hoot. The meeting is to be by the penguin pool and there is Poirot in all his penguin-like sartorial splendor awaiting "Miss Smith." Hastings and Japp also have humorous scenes in this episode. Poirot also has his humorous lines particularly the exchange of remarks with Lady Carrington and his telling Hastings that his inconvenience of having to room with Japp at the hotel was no where near as bad as what he had to go through when playing bridge with Lady Carrington. As ever, Suchet shines as Poirot (he is so much more engaging in the earlier episodes than the later ones). The storyline is a simple one - documents important to national security are stolen and Poirot and Japp are investigating. With few exceptions, I don't find spy stories particularly interesting and this was not an exception. This is the second or third Poirot episode that I have noticed that one of the main characters was wearing a fox fur - a truly revolting fashion accessory which I can't understand was ever considered stylish. Interesting how attitudes and fashions change.
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