I was confused reading the blurb on Audible as Hastings is mentioned although he doesn’t actually appear in this story.
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest is narrated excellently as always by Hugh Fraser.
It was released on Audible in June 2020 and published by HarperCollins
Perusing the morning paper Poirot’s attention was caught by the headlines… SPANISH CHEST MYSTERY. LATEST DEVELOPMENTS.
Six people had been invited to attend an evening party at Major Charles Rich’s house, five of them enjoying the food and dancing while the sixth lay dead, in the Spanish chest. Poirot is lamenting the absence of Hastings as tries in vain to engage Miss Lemon’s interest and thoughts on the matter. But nothing about the case piqued her curiosity.
Ah, thought Poirot. How my dear friend, Hastings, would have enjoyed this! What romantic flights of imagination he would have had. What ineptitudes he would have uttered. Ah, ce cher Hastings, at this moment, today, I miss him … Instead —
All the same, Poirot is very interested and asks Miss Lemon to gather all the information she can about the case from the newspapers. The facts were seemingly pretty straightforward. Mr Clayton was summoned to Scotland on an urgent business matter so was unable to attend the party. Everyone else was having a good time, unaware of anything untoward. It wasn’t until the following morning Major Rich’s manservant discovered the body in the chest. After a visit from Lady Chatterton Poirot is persuaded to investigate on behalf of Mrs Clayton who is sure the police have the wrong suspect. It’s not long before Poirot agrees with Mrs Clayton and sets out to discover the real culprit.
A fun short story with a listening time of 1 hour 25 minutes, The Mystery of the Spanish Chest was enjoyable and quick listen, although there wasn’t the chance for detailed character development. Nevertheless the characters were sketched well and the case was intriguing with some unexpected twists. A nice reference to the similarities of the case to a Shakespeare play.
As always, Poirot finds little clues that escape others. Most of the cast have motive if not means, with jealousy and the hint of conspiracy. It was interesting to note that Poirot liked his women ‘lush, exotic and highly coloured’ I don’t know that that’s ever been mentioned before, in the books I’ve read anyway. And the fact there had been ‘a certain Russian countess – a folly of earlier days’… very intriguing!