Tuesday ’Tec! The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim by Agatha Christie

Never bet against Poirot…

I seem to be reading as many mystery short stories this autumn as horror, so it’s time to let one of the greatest detectives of all time take over the Tuesday slot for a change! The story will have been collected many times, I imagine, but I read it in the new collection from HarperCollins, Midsummer Mysteries, which I’ll review fully soon…

Tuesday Tec2

The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim
by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

.….Poirot and I were expecting our old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to tea. We were sitting round the tea-table awaiting his arrival. Poirot had just finished carefully straightening the cups and saucers which our landlady was in the habit of throwing, rather than placing, on the table.

If I were Hastings, I’d find the temptation to unstraighten the cups and saucers again irresistible! Anyway, Japp arrives…

….“Hope I’m not late,” he said as he greeted us. “To tell the truth, I was yarning with Miller, the man who’s in charge of the Davenheim case.”

Poirot and Hastings are immediately intrigued, having seen the story in the papers…

….For the last three days the papers had been full of the strange disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, senior partner of Davenheim and Salmon, the well-known bankers and financiers. On Saturday last he had walked out of his house, and had never been seen since.

On Hastings remarking that in these days of technology it ought to be impossible for someone to successfully disappear, Poirot demurs…

….“Mon ami,” said Poirot, “you make one error. You do not allow for the fact that a man who had decided to make away with another man—or with himself in a figurative sense—might be that rare machine, a man of method. He might bring intelligence, talent, a careful calculation of detail to the task; and then I do not see why he should not be successful in baffling the police force.”

Japp then slyly suggests that of course Poirot would not be baffled…

….Poirot endeavoured, with a marked lack of success, to look modest. “Me, also! Why not? It is true that I approach such problems with an exact science, a mathematical precision, which seems, alas, only too rare in the new generation of detectives!”

Japp says confidently that the detective in charge of the case is excellent at spotting clues, but Poirot is unimpressed. He feels that in a case like this, merely collecting clues will not be enough – one must exercise the little grey cells. Grinning, Japp suggests a wager…

….“You don’t mean to say, Monsieur Poirot, that you would undertake to solve a case without moving from your chair, do you?”
….“That is exactly what I do mean—granted the facts were placed before me. I regard myself as a consulting specialist.”

….Japp slapped his knee. “Hanged if I don’t take you at your word. Bet you a fiver that you can’t lay your hand—or rather tell me where to lay my hand—on Mr. Davenheim, dead or alive, before a week is out.”

And so the race is on…

* * * * *

Considering how short a story this is, there’s a good plot, plenty of clues and it is essentially fair play. It’s also a light-hearted tale, with lots of humour in the banter between our three favourites, Poirot, Hastings and Japp. In these very early Christie stories – this one is from 1923 – it’s often easy to see the influence of Christie’s love for the Holmes and Watson stories, not just in the relationship between Poirot and Hastings, but sometimes also because she picks up on elements from the stories and uses them, not in a plagiarising way but as jumping off points for her own originality. This one takes a couple of points from one of the Holmes stories – which I’m not going to name since it would be a spoiler for anyone who knows those stories – and builds an entirely new set of characters and motives around them. I have to admit that once I recognised the influence, I was able to quite quickly work out the mystery, but if anything that added to my enjoyment rather than diminishing it. I love sharing my own Holmes geekery with Ms Christie!

If you’d like to read it for yourself, here’s a link.

* * * * * * *

Little Grey Cells rating: ❓ ❓ ❓ ❓

Overall story rating:      😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

49 thoughts on “Tuesday ’Tec! The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim by Agatha Christie

    • This is a particularly good collection – most of the stories are excellent. Ooh, hurrah! I hope she becomes a lifelong pleasure for him as she has been for me! I think it was around that age that I started reading them too. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like this one very much, too, FictionFan! I do like interactions among Poirot, Hastings, and Japp; as you say, they’re done quite well here. And it’s interesting how Christie innovated with what ACD had written. That’s part of what I admire about her: she knew the ‘rules’ and the stories that had gone before, and used them in her own way, sometimes even breaking those ‘rules.’ This one’s definitely a good ‘un.

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    • In the early stories especially you can see how Holmes, Watson and Lestrade influenced Poirot, Hastings and Japp, but unlike a lot of the pastiches (or rip-offs!), Christie gives them her own originality so they never feel too similar. And I love spotting the Holmes stories beneath her own stories – it makes me feel a bond with her… 😀

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  2. I haven’t read that many of her short stories, but I’ve watched the tv adaptation of this one and didn’t particularly like it. But I could imagine the short story is more fun. I love the humour and lighthearted tone, which appear in many of her early books.

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    • I didn’t know this one had been adapted for TV. There’s very little action in the written version since the whole point is that Poirot does it all from his armchair, so I can see that it might not be the most exciting one to watch…

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  3. I’ve had a few Christie short story collections over the years, read by Hugh Fraser of course, but I don’t remember this particular one from the quotes from the top of my head. It sounds like a good one though, so I’ll read it online from the link you posted. I’ve noticed the likeness to Holmes and Watson in some of Christie’s short stories before, but her own tales all still felt very original.

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    • I hadn’t come across this one before either – in fact, there’s a few in this new collection that were new to me, which made it even more fun. Yes, I bet she could have done great Holmes pastiches if she’d wanted to – she gets the style and could have added her own originality to come up with some great storylines!

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  4. The three old friends back together again, it is fun to see that play out over the years! I’m also a fan of this story and how Christie built on what went before, I can just imagine her Detection Club colleagues appreciating how she pulled that off.

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    • I love the stories that have all three of them in it – just as I love whenever Lestrade appears in the Holmes stories! Yes, I must say Martin Edwards had made me really aware of how all the Golden Age authors played games and kind of competed with each other – it adds a lot to the fun looking for connections!

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  5. I’ve got a real pang for reading these cosy books at the moment, only cosy because we know the characters so well (I can’t though, VF is my constant companion!) I’ll put this collection on the list. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m reading way too much vintage crime at the moment and too little of everything else! Ha, I hope you’re enjoying VF. My audio listening is going so slowly I’ve taken to reading alternate chapters to speed things along a bit, or I’ll never finish in time! 😀

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      • I am enjoying it but why is it taking so long to read, I can’t really understand it? I’ll probably finish it the night before and then have a 1 sentence review to show for the slog! Not resentful at all I just want to get on with the Agatha Christie that’s looking at me!

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    • Oh no, not another lockdown! We seem to have decided just to give up and rely on our high vaccination rates now. Still getting far too many deaths though. That reminds me – were you affected by the earthquake??

      Liked by 2 people

      • Melbournians have been locked down since May, apart from a few weeks of semi-lockdown. We’ll get to your point of opening up eventually, though and relying on vaccinations. I’m already dreading it.
        The earthquake shook my house for ages! I’d never experienced anything like it and it turns out in moments of panic that I freeze! No damage, happily. There was surprisingly little damage across Victoria either and no one injured which was amazing. It happened around 9.15am and the rest of my work day was a blur due to the work that followed, so definitely an event my team could have done without.

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        • I’m glad you didn’t have any major damage, and it’s amazing that no one was injured! I’ve never experienced even a tiny earth tremor, and I must admit it’s one of the things I find most terrifying. I can never understand why people go on living in places like San Francisco that have tremors all the time!

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          • Me either! The thought of living in an area that might all fall into the sea is terrifying.
            But some people say that they would be too frightened to live in Australia because of snakes, sharks, spiders etc. And as for Scotland, with your Loch Ness Monster!!! I just couldn’t!

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            • I definitely would be put off by the snakes and spiders, and you wouldn’t get me within a mile of a shark! I think it largely depends what you get used to when you’re young, though – there are practically no natural dangers in Scotland so I’m scared of everything… 😂

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  6. I must say I’m very impressed that you can pick up on these references to other books, especially ones printed decades and decades ago – I don’t think I’ll ever be widely enough read to manage that! I have trouble retaining books years after I read them, which doesn’t give me much hope haha

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    • Ha, I almost never manage to work out a Christie mystery – or anybody else’s for that matter – and only got it this time because of the Holmes echoes. There’s another one though where she also uses a Holmes scenario as her starting point, but even though I saw that right away it didn’t help me solve it. 😀

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