With his rumpled raincoat, ever-present cigar, bumbling demeanour and Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction, disarmingly polite homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo took on some of the most cunning murderers in Los Angeles, most of whom made one fatal, irrevocable mistake: underestimating his investigative genius.
The show follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.
Jesse L. Martin,
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
As you might have already guessed from the title, this episode is not dealing with a murder, but with a theft: to be more precise, with the theft of some top secret plans for a fighter plane from the desk of an English engineer. The main suspect is an American lady that many believe is a spy working for the Germans, but Hercule Poirot, who has been invited to the same house for the weekend, is not convinced that the case is that simple.
This is a rather trifling episode of the Poirot series, and maybe the easiest way to explain that would be to say that murder mystery stories are usually more engaging than pre-WWII spy stories. But then again, "this is a matter of national security", as one character says. No, I think the problem lies elsewhere: in the fact that, if you think about it, the story and its outcome would have been essentially the same WITHOUT Poirot's involvement (can't get into more detail without spoiling it, but think about it). On the plus side, Inspector Japp gets some laughs in this episode, particularly when he's trying not to look at the female suspect while she's getting undressed in the next room. (**)
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