This month, we’ve chosen to read a country house murder, Dumb Witness. The dedication, made out to Christie’s pet wire fox terrier, reads ‘To dear Peter, most faithful of friends and dearest of companions, a dog in a thousand’. A pet dog named Bob, features prominently in the story, and is one of the most buoyant characters at the country house where the death of Emily Arundell takes place.
What’s it about?
Miss Emily Arundell of Littlegreen House in Market Basing is an unmarried woman in her 70s. She lives with her companion Miss Lawson, who she treats with contempt and her dog Bob who she reveres. She has a host of nieces and nephews, who seem more devoted to her promise of inheritance, than to their aunt.
"She was Miss Arundell of Littlegreen House. She was ‘one of our oldest customers’. She was ‘one of the old school. Not many about like her nowadays’. The villagers of Market Basing, Dumb Witness"
As the family visitors descend on the country house for Easter weekend, requests for money are made and Miss Arundell suffers a near fatal fall. Suspicious of the circumstances, and perhaps determined not to blame dear Bob, the protagonist writes to Hercule Poirot… but the letter turns up months later. Poirot is determined to investigate the cryptic correspondence he has received, but the mistress who sent it died on May 1st.
Did we mention the dog? Bob’s character is a truly charming addition to this crime story, and Christie imbues him with a cheeky sense of character. Pets aside, the set up of Dumb Witness is fascinating as we are given full details before the death and afterwards, but there’s a big gap in the reader’s knowledge. That is, until Poirot employs a few deceptions to gain confidences in the village. Captain Hastings’ righteous indignation is also excellent. Share your thoughts about the novel, and read along with us using #readchristie2019 on Twitter and Instagram.
The live book club
We will be hosting our live book club chat about Dumb Witness on Friday 31st May at 4pm (BST). We hope you can join us on Facebook to discuss this story. Thanks to everyone who joined us for April’s chat about The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. We had a great time!