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Inventor Sir Claude Amory feels a bitter taste in the mouth when the new formula for explosive material stolen by someone in the householdIn order to uickly remedy the situation Sir Claude locks the door and turns off the light giving the thief a chance to return the formula without being detected But darkness brings death and Hercule Poirot has to untangle family strife love and suspicious visitors tangle in order to clarify the murderer and prevent disaster


10 thoughts on “Black Coffee

  1. says:

    2019 LISTEN for pleasure ?Well I have just finished listening to this not because I was hoping it would get better but because for various reasons I just wanted to listen to a detective novel the comfort of being read to and I happened to have this on my iPod In actual fact it was better than reading the book not enough to change the 3 star rating it was about a 35 ⭐️ but enough that I don’t think so badly of it Hastings is still a parody of his character and Japp is again just a by product but oh ok I did enjoy it a bit Right that’s it still 3 stars but it was what I needed at the time BTW I did get rid of the book see below 2018 READ for Hercule Poirot ChallengeHmm well to me it was relatively easy to tell that this was not written by Agatha Christie The story whilst a good one was just missing something that lifted it into the realms of a true Poirot book it missed that Agatha ness that only she could give it There are a number of things that didn't uite ring true Hastings was one it was like he was being used when a foil was needed He'd disappear for 30 pages to suddenly make an idiotic comment and then be gone again Japp was another he makes an appearance does very little and thats itNo this was not good and to me only just scraped 3 stars how Matthew Pritchard Agatha Christie's grandson can say Agatha would be proud to have written it I do not knowI bought this book especially for the challenge but shall be passing it on to a charity shop as I shall never re read


  2. says:

    The mystery detective novel Black Coffee was not written by Agatha Christie in spite of the 24 point type declaration of her name above the title that the Christie estate insisted on ruddy liars Black Coffee is a novelization published in 1998 by Charles Osborne of the 1930 play of the same name by Christie Osborne had written a scholarly work about Christie’s fiction that was praised by the Christie estate; Osborne encouraged by this proposed to write a novelization of one of her plays and they enthusiastically agreed Christie’s last book had been published 22 years before in 1976 the year she had died and they probably saw this as a way to boost the Christie franchise cash grab So 68 years after Black Coffee was launched on stage it emerged as a novel with her name on it Most of the words in it are hers ButChristie didn’t like any of the dramatic adaptations of any of her novels which led to her trying her hand at playwriting herself The Mousetrap is one of the very very successful ones obviously the longest running play of all time well written great theatre; Black Coffee was one of Christie’s early attempts at drama that was pretty well received as she was an author of international renown already by this time but it is now seen as a very minor work in the Christie universe though two films were actually made of the play But I can’t imagine Christie herself actually adapting it to a novel just to make money for the Christie family fill out her already substantial catalogue In this novelization Hercule Poirot and his friend Hastings hiss such a dope visit the famous physicist Sir Claud Amory who has devised the formula for a new type of explosive but they learn that he has been poisoned in his black coffee hence the title the night of their arrival Christie famously makes it very difficult to find out who dunnit in her mystery novels but in Mr Osborne’s two left hands we know the murderer very early on arghOsborne describes Poirot harshly than Christie would have An inveterate snob he was already predisposed in Sir Claud’s favour by virtue of his title If he were to be found in Who’s Who a volume in which the details of Poirot’s own career could also be discovered then perhaps this Sir Claud was someone with a valid claim on his Hercule Poirot’s time and attention Ingenerous stuffy Poirot could be a tad arrogant but this is harsh When Osborne gets a chance to try his hand at Poirot dialogue he has him British than Belgian I do beg your pardon my dear GeorgeaughThe whole first chapter Osborne wrote and almost every sentence reveals he is NOT Christie The prose doesn’t match the style or tone of Christie at all How could a Christie critic purporting to really understand Christie write that chapter? If you are in fact a writer why not transform the text and make it your own as so many have done turning Austen novels for instance into their own art with inventive hooks and descriptions and turns of plot What would Christie herself do in writing a novelization? Oh but then she didn’t do that And she could have and would have done it well rethinking Austen for instance But she didn’t Part of the reason it doesn’t work as well as it might is that it is an early less accomplished play by a writer that was generally a better novelist than a playwright It’s not a bad play but when you are going to write a novelization of an okay play you should take license to do something interesting with it make it new Black Coffee is fan fiction and as with 50 Shades of Grey as fan fiction of Twilight it worked out for the author and for the Christie franchise I like fan fiction and very much support it as a creative enterprise it’s creative reading using writing in response And long time Christie fans welcomed a new “Christie” book even knowing it was not written by her Or all written by her And the book sold well blessed as it was as “the first Christie novel in 20 years” so many many Christie fans the world over had to have it In 1998 had I been a Christie fan I would have bought it probably So it sold so many copies that the estate sanctioned him to take two minor plays and turn them into novels that they claim are “written by Christie” liars and they also did pretty well I mean there’s enough Christie fans wanting a “new Christie novel” to assure lots of books sold regardless of uality Just you wait to see my new Harry Potter novel where Dumbledore arises from the dead tottering pale seeking blood revengeAll that said I wanted to hate this book than I did I like the short for Christie title the story is not bad it’s middle of the road Christie it’s not the worst The dialogue which Christie actually wrote is as it almost always is good of course But almost nothing else is uite good enough Almost everything Osborne writes as Christie’s ghost is pretty badly or at best blandly done I hate it that it is part of the officially sanctioned catalogue of Christie’s Poirot novels when she didn’t even write it; she just wrote the dialogue and stage directions which Osborne actually KEEPS in places lazilyMathew Prichard Christie’s grandson wrote the afterword that makes it clear the family was going to officially sanction this hack work as a Christie novel which he says “reads like authentic vintage Christie I feel sure Agatha would be proud to rolling over in her grave with horror have written it” Augh I actually might have given this two stars just because it has some decent Christie language in it and that fan fiction support point but in principle have to give it one star liars


  3. says:

    This was a bad ideaTake an early play by Agatha Christie so over written for the stage that it comes across as an amusing self parody Select a non fiction writer opera expert and erstwhile actor to turn it into a novel Result? A frankly embarrassing read Histrionics and melodrama do not work on the page; or at least not for a modern audience Neither is a good novel crafted in the same way as a playI had my doubts early on when one of the characters was telling us the history of another at great length We are then treated to an inordinately detailed description of the drawing room and rather stilted dialogue Adding a plan of the room ensures that we are in for a very clunky read indeedThe telling of a character’s life history and present situation is a crude way of getting information across which would be far better slowly revealed by events This is a rookie mistake The detailed description was clearly lifted verbatim from stage directions And a sketch map? In chapter two? Why? We are still grindingly slowly being introduced to the characters; nothing has happened to merit this No little grey cells are frantically trying to work out how a locked room murder has been committed although this is indeed to come Neither are we interior decorators being invited to redesign the roomTake this piece of sparkling writing “Sir Claud Amory joined the dinner party taking his place at the head of the table around which the six others were already seated On Sir Claud’s right sat his niece Barbara Amory with Richard her cousin and the only son of Sir Claud next to her On Richard Amory’s right sat a house guest Dr Carelli an Italian Continuing round at the opposite end of the table to Sir Claud sat Caroline Amory his sister A middle aged spinster she had run Sir Claud’s house for him ever since his wife died some years earlier Edward Raynor Sir Claud’s secretary sat on Miss Amory’s right with Lucia Richard Amory’s wife between him and the head of the household”More stage directions? Or is this an exceptionally dry piece of writing by a nonfiction writer keen to cram in as much information as possible without worrying about how dry it is? Close your eyes Now what can you remember? I can remember very little and I’ve just typed it outHere is another choice bit of dialogue “I was just saying dear wasn’t I what a very strange thing it was that Dr Carelli should turn up in the way he did with no idea that you were living in this part of the world You simply ran into him in the village and invited him here It must have been a great surprise for you my dear mustn’t it?”Ouch The phrase “show not tell” springs to mind And most especially do not have one character telling another what they have doneA feeble attempt at suspense is attempted “‘There are shadows ’ she looked over her shoulder as though she could see them ‘shadows everywhere’”And I plodded through to chapter 3 By now the convention has been established The older generation are gossipy women tactless insular with vague prejudices and a little dim witted The younger ones are slightly brighter glamorous but brittle and fragile given to emotional outbursts female or sullen resentment uick to anger male All most amusing don’t you knowIt really is painting by numbers this novel Perhaps you remember the kits from when you were a child The outline of a picture was printed on canvas board and the picture at this point was not entirely clear The task was to fill in the numbered patches with oil paint provided in tiny numbered pots with a brush The brush strokes must not be seen That would add unwanted texture and depth something this novel badly lacks Also when the picture was completed it was possible to tell instantly that this was not an original painting but completed from a kit It did not really gel The areas were discrete Nothing blended naturally It remained crudeBy chapter 5 we have several elements in place We have met the players in this farce of a murder mystery been privy to several secrets seen the poison handled by various individuals and witnessed much gossiping whispering and sneering All of this interspersed with stage directions so that we know just exactly who is engrossed in a newspaper who has moved across the room to sit down in a small armchair who is dancing with whom who is standing in front of the fireplace who has put a lump of sugar into their coffee who has fallen asleep who is walking across the room ad infinitumOn wearily to chapter 5 Ah now this is where the novel should have started A novel is different from a play It needs something to engage our attention A play has other elements which can prove interesting to the audience but keeping the text of the play in the same order I fear was a mistake Now we have something to grab the attentionThe drawing room is plunged into darkness The door has been locked from the outside When the lights are switched back on a priceless formula which had been stolen has apparently miraculously appeared in full view of everyone present exactly as Sir Claud reuested Sir Claud had announced that one of the people present was a thief He offered a deal that if whoever stole the envelope containing the papers put it on the table then no uestions would be asked But once the lights were turned back on by Tredwell the butler if the papers were not there then the matter would be out of his hands and turned over to the police But the thrill of the returned envelope is short lived for someone is now dead and of course the reader knows that they must have been murderedNow that is a great piece of theatreThe story? Sir Claud Amory is a famous award winning physicist He had developed the principle for accelerating particles the travelling wave particle accelerator Now he has been working on a new formula to bombard the atom and obviously this was work which was of great interest to the Ministry of Defence for use in any future war However Sir Claud was extremely worried and called Hercule Poirot to ask for help informing him that someone in his own household was attempting to steal the formula since his work was now complete and a new and deadly explosive could be madeHercule Poirot and his friend Captain Arthur Hastings travelled to the Amory residence but by the time they arrive someone has been poisoned and the formula has indeed disappeared It is up to Poirot and his little grey cells to untangle the mystery A nice touch is that every single person present had the chance to steal the formula as each character had been left alone in the drawing room for a few minutes shortly before they had all been summoned to Sir Claud Amory’s presence It is a shame that the description of each of their actions was written in uite so pedestrian a fashionThis is a locked room mystery; over the French windows are secured by an ingenious lock of Sir Claud’s own design which nobody else can work There is handily a tin of poisonous drugs from an ancient doctor’s bag which is kept on top of a cupboard and accessible to all The tin contains several phials of deadly chemicals each of which could prove fatal In particular hyoscine hydrobromide could easily put a person into “a dreamless sleep” This fact was helpfully communicated to everyone in the novel by one of the characters We also have much confusion by virtue of than one switching of possibly poisoned cups of coffeeThere is jealousy and intrigue At least one of the characters is deeply in debt At least one has a mysterious past and it is revealed that one of the characters comes from dubious villainous parentage There are hints of an Italian political plot We have three of Agatha Christie’s much loved star characters present in Hercule Poirot Captain Arthur Hastings and Sergeant Japp of Scotland Yard All the elements are there for a superb whodunnit and yet what we have is a camp travestyThe adapter of Agatha Christie’s play Black Coffee is the Australian born author Charles Osborne who at various times of his life had been an actor a life model a chorus boy a bookshop assistant a cinema usher and an underwear sales rep However he was also a poet theatre critic editor opera buff and biographer and the literature director of the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1971 to 1986 His policies were often controversial but his work as a writer was much respected Charles Osborne was eually at home in biography journalism poetry music drama and literary criticismCharles Osborne showed an early talent for music and his works included studies of the operas of Verdi Wagner Strauss and Mozart When in his twenties he earned a living through acting appearing in everything from Shakespeare to Noël Coward in the theatres of Brisbane Melbourne and beyond and played rep in “Ned Kelly country” He also wrote good poetry and when he forgot his lines on stage was able to improvise with impeccable blank verse He appeared in radio plays serials and commercials and after winning a competition on one tour for having the most shapely legs in the company earned extra cash by posing nude for a life class at the National Art Gallery of Victoria in MelbourneIn 1953 at the age of 25 he set sail for Great Britain where he was to live for the rest of his life Initially he was employed in casual work including as a commissionaire at the “Academy” cinema in Oxford Street London However his insistence on wearing his cap at what he considered “a suitably insouciant angle” resulted in him being fired He sounds uite a characterFrom 1986 to 1991 he was the chief theatre critic of the “Daily Telegraph” newspaper and also contributed criticism on a wide variety of topics to other leading publications including “Opera” magazine He wrote several highly regarded books on Classical music and published poetry which has been critically acclaimedCharles Osborne wrote a biography of WH Auden with whom he had a special friendship and a biographical companion to the works of Agatha Christie He converted other plays into novels too Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” Black Coffee is not the only play by Agatha Christie to have been graced by his attention He adapted two into novelsIn 1998 Charles Osborne had taken a little known play by Agatha Christie Black Coffee which had initially been rejected by her publisher as “not good enough” Black Coffee was eventually published in 1930 although the action is set in 1934 Charles Osborne adapted Agatha Christie’s play and turned it into a novel This was approved by the Christie estate and enthusiastically endorsed by her grandson Michael Prichard who described it as “a classic ‘someone in this room is the murderer’ story”In fact Charles Osborne’s novelisation of the play was so well received that he wrote two “The Unexpected Guest” in 1999 and “Spider’s Web” in 2000 I doubt very much whether I shall be reading these It baffles me a little that the clunky Black Coffee has proved so popular I can only put it down to the public’s insatiable desire for “a new Agatha Christie” and the idea that any flaws of writing style would be forgivable if it was truly a retelling of the Great Dame’s initial devising For my part I would prefer to read an original novel by her again in the hope that I would not guess “whodunnit” There are certainly plenty of themI do not doubt the credentials of this author but fiction is not his forte I am rating this at one star often finding the read excruciating I suspect however that the original play would rate two stars from me It has some good ideas; which are classic Christie A two star read is worth reading by Goodreads guidelines “it was OK” but nothing specialSo would I watch the play as live theatre? Yes uite possibly I can imagine a talented amateur company having great fun camping this up overindulging their talent for melodrama and making the most of the ridiculously over the top histrionics It could make for an amusing fun evening and it is uite possible that Agatha Christie had this in mind and wrote this with her tongue firmly in her cheek A young Charles Osborne apparently starred in one of the first productions as Dr CarelliDid I guess “whodunit” in this case? Yes and let me assure you that I am usually fairly hopeless at this It was a bit of a giveaway though that Poirot asked for whisky A nice and predictable piece of theatre followed thisI will leave you with the bare bones of the clues the sounds made during that early two minutes when the lights were switched off by Sir Claud Amory and which Poirot considered essential to solving the plot “‘Gasps a lot of little gasps the noise of a chair falling a metallic click a scream the knocking at the door oh right at the beginning the noise of tearing silk ’‘It is all there Hastings in those few moments of darkness All there And yet our ears tell us nothing’”And a recurring motif “The coffee tastes bitter”Indeed it does


  4. says:

    ‘George’ he called ‘please take my heavy tweed suit and my dinner jacket and trousers to the cleaners I must have them back by Friday as I am going to the Country for the Weekend’ He made it sound like the Steppes of Central Asia and for a lifetimeTweed? No I cannotno to Poirot in tweeds I am all in favour of fan fiction especially when it is done well Unfortunately Black Coffee fell flat on so many countsWhat is in my opinion even worse is that the book was authorised even commissioned by Christie's estate Subseuently it was published as part of the official Agatha Christie catalogue This is just plain wrong Christie did write the play Black Coffee in 1929 to experiment with play writing herself after stage adaptations of her previous books failed to impress her However I guess she must have had her reasons for not developing this particular story into a full novel although many many elements in the story do appear in later storiesOr maybe Charles Osborne would just regurgitate the tricks and techniues of Dame Agatha's better known works to cover his lack of imagination? After all he did write the book some 20 years after Christie's death My dismay at Agatha Christie Ltd and the publishers for allowing this book to be published as part of the official series is not however solely because it is so obvious that it was a financial decision to milk the franchiseI'm disliking that this book should be the best available work of fan fiction and should be worthy of publication especially when readers may pick this up and actually think it was written by Christie The obvious lack in sincerity in Osborne's portrayal of the characters is downright upsetting So not only does he make Poirot wear tweeds but he also turns him into something that he is not For all of Poirot's eccentricities the Poirot Christie had created may have had high standards but he has always had some empathy with other people An inveterate snob he was already predisposed in Sir Claud’s favour by virtue of his title If he were to be found in Who’s Who a volume in which the details of Poirot’s own career could also be discovered then perhaps this Sir Claud was someone with a valid claim on his Hercule Poirot’s time and attention No Just no


  5. says:

    Text audiobook Synopsis Sir Claud Amory's formula for a powerful new explosive has been stolen presumably by a member of his large household Sir Claud assembles his suspects in the library and locks the door instructing them that the when the lights go out the formula must be replaced on the table and no uestions will be asked But when the lights come on Sir Claud is dead Now Hercule Poirot assisted by Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp must unravel a tangle of family feuds old flames and suspicious foreigners to find the killer and prevent a global catastrophe


  6. says:

    In 1930 Black Coffee was an Agatha Christie play production that Australian writer Charles Osborne would make into a novelization in 1998 It brings Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings to the estate of Sir Claud Armory a man working on a secret scientific formula for the British government In true Christie fashion the pair arrive just as Sir Claud has been poisioned and every person in the mansion is accused of the crime I tell you Hastings what we have here is drama Not a simple sordid crime but drama Poignant human drama I noticed as I was adding the book to my read shelf that a fair number of my fellow reviewers didn't like this one but I have to say that I uite enjoyed it and did feel that Osborne had followed the Christie formula as much as he could There are the stereotypes in regards to foreigners Hastings weakness for beautiful women and Poirot's knack of getting the suspects to open up to him I am actually uite pleased that I stumbled upon it at the secondhand bookstore this summer Goodreads review 031119


  7. says:

    It shows that this was written by Agatha Christie as a play but then adapted into a novel by another authorso not a bad book but very disappointing if you have read any other Agatha Christie stories


  8. says:

    Don't BotherThis was a play written by Agatha Christie that was converted into a novel by Charles Osborne at the reuest of the Christie Estate Charles Osborne actually acted in the original play Unfortunately Osborne's novel is nothing but the dialogue of the play strung together by stage directions I found it to be very unpleasant to have every little action described in great detail as well as every detail of a room It was a terribly boring novel and if it hadn't been so short I probably wouldn't have finished itPoirot actually comes across as acting silly or rather overreacting This Poirot is not the Hercule Poirot that I have come to know and loveAt one point in the book Sir Claud Amory is referred to as Richard Amory's uncle which I thought very strange at the time because I was sure that previously Sir Claud was Richard Amory's father As things proceed Sir Claud is once again Richard Amory's father By the end of the book I no longer cared who had done what to whom Do yourself a favor and if you can get a hold of a copy of the play read that I'm told it was a much enjoyable read


  9. says:

    This addition to the Poirot series is really the novelisation of a 1930’s play published in 1998 and adapted by Charles OsborneSir Claud Amory is a reclusive and rich scientist who has currently devised a formula for a new explosive He now fears one of his household is trying to steal the formula and asks Poirot to come and stay and then return to London and give it to the ministry He catches Poirot at a time when the detective is feeling bored and also at a time when Hastings is visiting London from Argentina As such Poirot happily telephones the Captain and the two set off for the countryBy the time Poirot arrives the scientist is dead – poisoned – and the formula missing It is up to Poirot to make sense of events and uestion all the members of the household and guest Dr Carelli There are of course many motives and suspects These include the scientist’s son who has money problems his young Italian wife Lucia who has a shady past and the guest of whom little is known Although this book includes Hastings and Japp both have only minor parts Hastings is even foolish than usual and Japp has virtually a bit part Although it is not really Osborne’s fault the fact this is adapted from a play leads to him having to do lots of ‘scene setting’ involving room layouts facial expressions and dialogue Doors are left open Lucia ‘smouldered’ and lights go off As a Poirot novel this lacks charm and is uite dis jointed However ‘Papa Poirot’ does manage to do some match making and of course solve the case


  10. says:

    As a Poirot novel this one felt very weak in comparison to many others Maybe because it was an adaption from a play The characters are forgettable and there are very few twists You could even guess the ending Strictly for Poirot fans