“The Unexpected Guest” is a novel by Charles Osborne, however it also is adapted from a play penned by the great Agatha Christie. It was first published in 1999.
A fellow named Michael Starkwedder comes to a not so modest house in the English countryside for assistance after he runs his car into a ditch. When he arrives, he finds a study door open and a dead man in a wheelchair. Starkwedder is further startled to find a woman holding a gun as well. The woman turns out to be the widow who admits to killing her husband. Starkwedder hears a story about what led up to such a heinous situation and decides to help her cover up the crime. The police arrive in the shape of an Inspector Thomas and Sergeant Cadwallader. More of the stricken Warwick family is introduced. The murdered Richard Warwick ends up not making the most sympathetic of victims. Secrets of all sorts start to come to light. It’s typical Agatha Christie in all her literary glory.
I read another one of these adaptations recently and had a somewhat lukewarm reaction to it. I am pleased to say that this one was quite an improvement. Yes, some of the clichés and tropes are ever present, however there were some interesting twists and turns. Some I predicted, however there were a few unexpected revelations. Not everything came off as entirely implausible, but it is Dame Agatha ultimately, so it was easy enough to enjoy regardless. Osborne is not a spectacular wordsmith or anything, but he was competent enough to keep me interested. The story does move pretty quickly as well.
The story does a pretty good job of throwing the reader off when what appears obvious turns out to be a misdirection, and fairly clever ones as well.
Although I wouldn’t rank this as one of the classics in Christie’s body of work, it’s a solid enough addition for me to suggest this one to anyone who has yet to peruse it.
The unending literary expedition continues with one of my rare forays into non-fiction. I am about to step in “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” by Richard Preston.