You’ve gotta love reading classic literature. You never know when you’ll get one full of casual racism! Sexism, too; a rather unexpected addition from Agatha Christie.
Actually, considering some of her other works, it really shouldn’t be a surprise.
On a day like any other, famous movie star Mary Marvell pays Poirot and Hastings a visit. In her possession is the Western Star, a highly valuable diamond. Ms. Marvell has received several letters threatening to steal it. Later, Hastings meets Lady Yardly, owner of the Western Star’s counterpart, the Star of the East, which has also been threatened. Can Poirot protect the jewels and identify the thief? Things may not be so simple as that.
This whole short just feels really mean-spirited. Not just because it throws out lots of racial slurs and features multiple instances of men stereotyping women. Even the characters are mean to each other!
Poirot is at his least charming here than he has been in any story I’ve read starring him. Normally, his egotism is rather entertaining, charming even. But here, he kind of acts like a jackass. He strings Hastings along for almost the entire story, then delivers a series of shocking reveals that are all tantamount to him flipping his friend the bird. We don’t even get to see the two make-up, it literally ends with Hastings storming out the door, feeling embarrassed and betrayed! It’s like if a Sherlock Holmes story ended with Holmes kicking Watson in the nuts!
Now, the actual mystery itself is kind of cool. A potential double robbery conducted by a mysterious figure? Sign me up! It’s like something out of Indiana Jones!
Alas, the actual payoff is pretty disappointing. The truth behind the mystery is so damn complicated that no one in their right mind would be able to figure it out through the clues the story provides. It feels like the short was originally supposed to be much longer, but Christie trimmed it down and didn’t bother editing the ending.
Overall, I don’t care for this one. Cool as the mystery was, it ended without satisfaction. Plus, the whole thing just felt pointlessly mean-spirited. Not an enjoyable read. So far, this is my least favorite Poirot story.