Lady Chatterton asks for Poirot's assistance when she comes to fear for the safety of her friend, Marguerite Clayton. Specifically, she is convinced that Marguerite's husband Edward Clayton, known for his violent temper, will kill her. Poirot is invited to a party in order to meet Clayton, but he never shows up. The next day, Poirot finds himself being interviewed by Inspector Japp when Edward Clayton's body is found hidden in an elaborate Spanish chest located in the same room as the party the previous evening. When Marguerite's friend Major Rich is arrested for the murder, Poirot correctly deduces the true nature of the crime and the identity of the culprit. Written by
Agatha spoons another horror from the stock of nightmares.
As I recall this episode it pulls shivers up my spine. The episodes in the television adaptation of Poirot were a bit hit-and-miss, but the particularly brutal murder method in this episode found solid anchor in my brain and still lies tethered thirteen years later. It's so memorable that the mere mention of the series or a even just a glance at another episode brings back this horrid mish mash of Nyctophobia, Claustrophobia and ghoulish ocular trauma.
Imagine yourself trapped inside a trunk -- though matchbox coffin might be more apt. You know the lid isn't locked in place. You could leave if you really wanted, but to escape would reveal yourself to a room that would find you so socially abhorrent that you can just about ignore the nagging compulsion. Light intrudes through a keyhole and those cramps in your constricted limbs, begging for the closest release, persuade you to peer into the glaring stream. As your eye adjusts at a distance that allows unobstructed survey of the room, a long thin object blocks your vision; it punctures your cornea, pushes swiftly through your retina and follows the optic nerve deep into your brain. Here you will remain, undiscovered until the morning, in what you correctly identified as your coffin.
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