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BOOK CORNER: THE UNEXPECTED GUEST … by Agatha Christie

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–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

THE UNEXPECTED GUEST

by Agatha Christie

Novelisation by Charles Osborne

    ‘The Unexpected Guest’ is a novelisation by Charles Osborne of the 1958 play by the same name written by the queen of crime fiction, Agatha Christie. This novelisation was first published in the UK by Harper Collins on 6th September 1999, and in US by St. Martin’s Press on 1st October 1999.

    Just like the play. The novelisation is a straightforward transfer of the stage lines and directions of Christie’s script into a smooth written narrative. Charles Osborne chose not to add characters, lines or even scenes which would alter in any substantial way what had been presented on the stage some forty-one years ago. Although minor amendments were made to produce suitable chapter endings or beginning of chapters.

    Hindi film ‘Dhund’ of 1973, produced and directed by B R Chopra with a powerful caste of Navin Nischol, Sanjay Khan, Zeenat Aman, Danny Denzongpa, Devan Verma, Madan Puri was based on this play of Agatha Christie.

    Now let us come to storyline. South Wales, close to Bristol Channel forms the backdrop of this novel. And before I take you through the plot let me give you an overview of the main characters.

  1. Richard Warwick—Is the deceased who was shot. The murder mystery moves around this character. He is crippled post an accident.
  2. Laura Warwick—wife of deceased Richard Warwick. Confesses to the murder of her husband Richard in the beginning.
  3. Michael Starkweddar—Is the stranger whose car lands in a ditch and stalls in the foggy night around the hilly track.
  4. Julian Farrar—A local politician and Richard Warwick’s friend, suspected of having an affair with Laura.
  5. Miss Bennet in short Benny—A combined housekeeper and a secretary.
  6. Angell—The male nurse attendant of Richard Warwick.
  7. Jan Warwick—Richard Warwick’s young half brother.
  8. Warburton—A nurse.
  9. Macgregor—Father of the child who was run over by Richard Warwick some years ago.
  10. Sergeant Cadwallader—From the police department but extremely poetic in nature. Looks for poetry in everything.
  11. Inspector Thomas—Cop who investigates the case.
  12. Mrs Warwick—Mother of Richard Warwick

   

    On a foggy night, while driving around the hills a man by the name of Michael Starkweddar drives his car into a ditch near an isolated house. Choiceless, he enters a house which is close by and finds the body of a dead man slumped in a chair. A woman stands over the corpse, with gun in hand, and confesses to the murder. She gives her name as Laura Warwick, the wife of the dead man. She goes on to explain that he was always drunk, abusive and mad after shooting.

    Michael decides not to turn her to the police. The two decide to come up with a cover-up story to protect Laura. In the end they settle on an enemy from the past by the name of Macgregor whose son was run-over by Richard Warwick several years ago. And who is now the man murdered.

    They slip a paper into Richard’s pocket with the date of the accident saying, ‘paid in full.’ Then they stage a murder, so that it appears to have been recent, alerting the residents of the building.

    The police are soon alerted. They begin investigation. When it is revealed that Macgregor is dead and then suspicions start running wild.

    Meanwhile Michael discovers that Laura is having an affair with another man by the name of Julian Farrar who happens to be an adjacent neighbour, and, also, a local politician. There is a conversation in the book that stretches a couple of pages where Laura questions Julian if he had killed Richard and where Julian insinuates at Laura that even if you have killed Richard he will take the blame. So, both in a way blame each other. Michael however believes Laura to be guilty.

    Finally, it is revealed that Michael only is Macgregor and that he come to avenge his son.

    He shouts this to Laura along with the fact that he cares for her and jumps through the window, running away.

    The book is less than two hundred pages. The language is plain English so you don’t require a dictionary every now and then.

    I would give the book eight out of ten.

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Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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