Alice Pengelley visits Poirot in London, telling him she thinks she is being poisoned by her husband. When Poirot arrives in Cornwall the next day to investigate Mrs. Pengelley's charges, he is too late, and finds her dead.
Poirot and Captain Hastings travel to Cornwall at the request of Mrs. Pengelly but arrive to find that the woman is dead. She had told Poirot the previous day that she feared her dentist husband, Edward Pengelly, had been having an affair with his pretty receptionist and that further, he was trying to poison her. Apart from her husband, she has a niece and her fiancé, but no other relatives in the village. When Inspector Japp arrests the husband for murder, the Belgian detective is convinced that the wrong person is in the dock. Written by
The village used for this episode is not Cornish at all. It is Dunster, which is in Somerset. In the final few scenes, Inspector Japp is stood under the eaves of the Dunster Yarn Market, and Dunster Castle is clearly visible in the background. See more »
Are you feeling better, Hastings?
Yes. Yes, I am, as a matter of fact. Takes the pressure off the pancreas, you see.
Hein, the pancreas is nothing. Of the digestive organs, the liver is the key. Look after the liver and life will take care of itself.
Your tisane, Monsieur Poirot
Thank you, Miss Lemon. This is what you need, Hastings.
No fear; I've tasted it.
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For me this episode stands out for being considerably less light-hearted than its predecessors. From the first shot of Poirot staring out the window at the rain, through the initial interview with the client conducted outside on the rainy sidewalk, through the scenes of the funeral and subsequent exhumation, the grim states of death and grief hang over the story like a fog. There are a few glimmers of a subplot, involving Hastings' temporary obsession with all things "Oriental" (which in 1930s Britain evidently included everything from Rabindranath Tagore to the I Ching)but they do little to relieve the overall sense of gray foreboding.
The plot can be summarized briefly. Mrs. Pengelley travels from a small town in Cornwall to consult Poirot. She is worried that her husband is poisoning her because he is in love with his young blonde assistant in his dentistry practice. Poirot and Hastings take the train to Cornwall the next day, only to discover that their client is already dead. Outraged and disappointed in himself that he had not taken the woman's concerns seriously (the first time we have seen Poirot truly angry with himself), Poirot goes to interview the woman's niece and discovers that there were multiple reasons for her husband to have considered murdering her. And yet, by the time he is back on the train to London, he is predicting that he will be returning to Cornwall to save the husband from the gallows.
It will not surprise any Poirot fan to discover that the case is not as open-and-shut as Chief Inspector Japp would like to believe. And the way Poirot and Hastings elicit a confession from the real killer requires really an extraordinary suspension of disbelief. Overall, an average, but not remarkable episode.
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