The very title suggests a dramatic quality in the plot. And so is it.
First Act-Murder at the party
13 people gather for a party in the house of an actor. A suggestion is made to increase the number to 14 to ward off the ill effects by the actor’s secretary, but is brushed off. Tragedy strikes when one of the guests dies, after consuming a glass of dry martini. But nothing is found suspicious, though one of the guests, Hercule Poirot has his own doubts.
Second Act-the suspicion
Apart from his incidental appearance, Poirot stays in the background, content to pull the strings. It is the actor and another of his guests, Mr.Sattherwaite(of The Mysterious Mr.Quin fame) who embark on a trail of detection. True to Poirot’s oft repeated maxim that a murderer does not stop with one murder, another guest of murdered in a similar fashion in his own house with the modus operandi being the same. This creates a panic among the remaining survivors, barring Poirot.
Third Act-The deduction
A third victim, with knowledge about the identity of the murderer speeds up Poirot to stage his drama, confirming the identity of the perpetrator which is a complete shock to the reader!
The way Poirot goes about manipulating the strings, playing second fiddle but arriving at the results in 24 hours is a feat. Though initially dull, the narrative takes pace with the murder of the second guest and veers off to a startling finish, leaving us wondering at the ingenuity of the murderer.
Last but not the least, enjoy this book with a glass of wine. You will feel the thrill.