Peril At End House

Peril At End House "Poirot and Hastings are spending a week's holiday at the Cornish resort of St. Loo, staying at the Majestic Hotel. Sat on the hotel terrace in the morning sun, Hastings reads in the paper of Captain Seton who is lost near the Solomon Islands whilst on a round-the-world flight. They meet a local resident, a young girl called 'Nick' Buckley (her real first name being Magdala) who lives in End House, a slightly ramshackle house on a point in the bay. During conversation, Nick lightly mentions that she has had three lucky escapes from death in as many days, piquing Poirot's curiosity. At the same time, a wasp shoots past the head of the young girl. Nick is fetched away by a friend of hers, Commander George Challenger, RN. After they have gone, Poirot examines the straw hat the girl has left behind and finds a bullet hole in it and a spent bullet nearby. He resolves to help save Nick's life.He calls on her at End House and she tells him of the other three 'accidents' – a falling picture frame above her head, a dislodged rock on a cliff path down to the sea and the brakes failing on her car. Poirot tells her his belief that her life is in danger. She doesn't take the threat at all seriously but Poirot has identified the bullet shot at her as coming from a Mauser pistol. She tells him that she possesses one and looks in the drawer for it but it has disappeared. Nick starts to take the threat seriously. She allows Poirot to question her and claims to know of no enemies. She is in somewhat reduced financial circumstances and is an orphan, her only brother having died in a car accident three years earlier. Her nearest living relative is a lawyer cousin, Charles Vyse, who arranged the re-mortgaging on End House for her to supply desperately needed funds and, aside from some distant cousins in Yorkshire, she has no other relatives. Her household is comprised of Ellen, the housekeeper, her husband and their child and the lodge house is let some Australians by the name of Croft. Her other friends who will be staying at the house for Regatta Week with her are Freddie Rice, who Nick is trying to persuade to divorce her abusive husband who has now disappeared, and Jim Lazarus, a young man who is in love with Freddie. George Challenger is also one of the party for the weekend. He is as impoverished as Nick and quite a few years older and has half-heartedly proposed marriage to her on a few occasions. Nick made a will six months previously in which she left the house to Charles Vyse and anything else that remained to Freddie. Poirot persuades her to ask someone else to stay with her for the weekend and Nick thinks of asking one of her Yorkshire cousins – Maggie Buckley. When they leave the house Poirot tells Hastings that Nick now has three levels of protection: she, as the victim, is forewarned, Maggie Buckley is to stay with her in a house full of otherwise potential suspects and the would-be murderer knows that Hercule Poirot is on the scene. Aside from that, Poirot is mystified, not knowing of any possible motive that would be worth Nick's death.They call at the local garage and find that the brakes of Nick's car were indeed tampered with. The day after Nick tells them that Maggie is arriving that afternoon and she invites Poirot and Hastings to join her other guests that night for dinner after which there will be a firework display in the harbour that they can watch from the garden. They then call on Charles Vyse and find out by deceptive questioning that he has no alibi for when the shot was fired at Nick. Vyse also tells them that Nick is devoted to End House whereas the impression gained by Poirot and Hastings was that she was merely fond of the house..."

Authors: Agatha ChristiePages: 433     Year: 1932

Tags: agatha detective christie

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