|25-02-11, 05:53 AM||#1|
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Agatha Christie - The Big Four
The Big Four
Captain Hastings visits Poirot and finds that Poirot is leaving for America. He has been offered a huge amount of money by the American 'soap king' millionaire Abe Ryland. Poirot inquires if Hastings has ever heard the phrase the Big Four. Hastings responds incooperatively. At the eleventh hour an unexpected visitor comes in saying only "M. Hercule Poirot* 14 Farraway Street." When he is given a piece of paper by a doctor he writes the number 4 many times. When Hastings mentions the Big Four* the man begins speaking* he tells them that number 1 is a Chinese political mastermind named* Li Chang Yen. He represents the brains of the Big Four. Number 2 is usually not named but represented by a '$' or two stripes and a star so he is probably American and he represents wealth. Number 3 is a Frenchwoman and Number 4 is the destroyer.
Poirot and Hastings fake an exit by train and return to Poirot's flat and find the man dead. The doctor is summoned and says that the man died of asphyxiation and has been dead about two hours* he cannot be closer because the windows were open. A man from an asylum visits them and tells them that the man had escaped from his asylum. Japp soon enters and recognizes the man to be Mayerling* a prominent figure in the Secret Service. Poirot asks Hastings if he opened the windows to which Hastings replies in the negative. Poirot examines the man and announces that Mayerling was gagged and poisoned using cyanide. The hands of the lounge clock were turned to 4 o' clock and Poirot realizes that the murderer was the man from the asylum.
Poirot and Hastings pay a visit to John Ingles* a wealthy man* and ask him about Li Chang Yen and the Big Four. He has heard of both* the former he heard of recently in a note from a fisherman who asked him for a few hundred pounds to hide himself from the Big Four. The note came from Hoppaton so Poirot* Hastings and Ingles go to Hoppaton and find out that the man who wrote the note a Mr. Jonathan Whalley has been murdered. There are two suspects his maid* Betsy* and his manservant Grant. Whalley had been hit on the head and then his throat had been cut and some jade figures he had had been stolen. Grant is the main suspect as his footprints covered in blood are found around the room* the jade figures were in his room and there is a smear of blood on his room's doorknob. Another reason is the fact that Grant has been imprisoned before* Grant got this job by a prisoner help society. Poirot finds a frozen leg of mutton which interests him very much. Poirot hypothesizes that the murderer was a young man who came in a trap and killed Whalley and went away. His clothing was slightly bloodstained. Poirot talks to Grant and asks him whether he entered the room twice to take the jade figures. When negatived Poirot reveals that no one noticed the murderer because he came in a butcher's cart. Mutton is not delivered on Sundays and if it had been delivered on Saturday it would not have been frozen. The man who gave Grant this job* Poirot assumes* was Number 4.
Poirot then introduces Hastings to Captain Kent who tells them of the sinking of many U.S. boats after the Japanese earthquake. After this they rounded many crooks up all of them referred to an organization called the Big Four. They have made a form of wireless energy capable of focusing a beam of great intensity on any spot. A British scientist called Halliday experimented on this and was said to be on the eve of success when he was kidnapped while on a visit to France. Poirot talks to Halliday's wife who tells him that her husband went to Paris on Thursday the 20th of July to talk to some people connected with his work among them the notable French scientist Madame Olivier. After lunch Halliday had gone to Madame Olivier. He had left her at six o' clock* dined alone at some restaurant and gone to his hotel. He had walked out next morning and had not been seen afterwards. As a result Poirot goes to Paris with Hastings.
Poirot and Hastings visit Madame Olivier* question her but while leaving they catch a glimpse of a veiled lady who Poirot is interested in. As soon as they exit the villa a tree falls down barely missing them. Poirot then explains to Hastings how Halliday was kidnapped he was walking away when a lady caught up with him and told him Madame Olivier wanted to talk to him again. She led him and turned into a narrow alley and then into a garden told him that Madame Olivier's villa was on the right side then and there Halliday was kidnapped. Poirot goes to the villa and asks to speak to the woman who just came. She comes down* after initially refusing* when Poirot sends his card. It turns out she is the Countess Vera Rossakoff. When confronted with the theory she phones the kidnappers to send Halliday back to the hotel. When Halliday returns he is too scared to speak. Then a man in a cloak* who is a participant in the big four* comes and tries persuading Hercule Poirot to stop and Hastings gets into a small fight with the stranger who evades Poirot* Hastings* and the hotel manager with a clever disguise
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