|"Oh mon Dieu!"|
The episode opens, as so many do, at Poirot's residence - "Whitehaven Mansions". (Incidentally featured - in its actual guise of Florin Court, Charterhouse Square - in Miss Marie's latest blog post, where I see it had a recent lucky escape from serious damage(!) thanks to the efforts of the threatened-with-closure Clerkenwell Fire Brigade. Read more at Love Letter from London.)
We're introduced to some of the main players in this particular drama - new resident (and soon to be victim!) Mrs Ernestine Grant, two young girl friends in the flat above and, of course, Poirot! (Miss Porcelina has expertly covered the ladies' fashions in this episode in a previous post of hers so I direct you to her blog Porcelina's World on that score.)
Poor old Poirot has a stinking cold - although with typical fatalism exaggerates it into dying brain cells due to three consecutive weeks without a case - despite Miss Lemon's best efforts with the Friar's Balsam.
|In the only scene where Hastings is not in evening wear we see the good old|
checked suit, with a splendidly subtle layered effect. Three-piece too, of course,
and topped off with a lovely gold-and-black spotted tie.
Still he rallies himself enough to go out (suitably wrapped up) and post a letter, whereupon dear old Hastings arrives and nearly gives him a heart attack by sounding his car's horn at him(!).
To try and take his mind of his cold, Hastings invites Poirot to give his "little grey cells" a workout on the murder mystery play he has two tickets for. To sweeten the offer, he bets Poirot £10 that he won't be able to identify the "murderer" before the play's end.
|Brown suede shoes with grey trousers?! He's a bounder!|
Meanwhile the real life murder begins to unfold as Mrs Grant receives a mystery visitor. The action then switches to the theatre, where the two young girls from Poirot's building are also in attendance with their beaus. Poirot finds the play tediously predictable, until a ridiculous last-minute plot twist ends with him losing the bet!
|I love his expressions just as much as his wardrobe!|
Back at Whitehaven Mansions Poirot aims to honour his debt, despite Hastings' discomfiture and protestations.
Things move quickly after that and I won't laden this post with picture after picture of people in evening wear chasing a murderer around a block of flats. Here's a few of the wonderful Captain doing his bit to apprehend the villain, though:
|Hastings decides to investigate for himself|
(looking very dapper, as always, in black tie)
|Out in the street looking very serious, but no sign of the escaped murderer.|
The Captain's efforts end up with him trying to stop the criminal from escaping in his own beloved Lagonda, causing the car to swerve and crash into a wooden trailer! Our hero ends up all of heap in the gutter, his car a wreck!
|Still looking smart even after diving into the road.|
By now it's dawn and with the evil-doer safely in the hands of the police, Hastings (along with Poirot and Japp) surveys the damage. Feeling better for having stretched his mind on a real murder case, Poirot magnanimously gives Hastings £10 for help with the repairs.
It seems a shame to leave poor old Hastings on a downer but fear not for he and the Lagonda will return for many more episodes - and fashion posts! The next one being Problem at Sea which, like Four and Twenty Blackbirds I have recently rediscovered as having much more sartorial goodness in it than I remembered. For now, though, here is the episode just discussed in full: