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The Unexpected Guest
by Agatha Christie & Charles Osbourne

Category: Fiction / Crime
179 pages; ISBN: 0002326906

Rating: 7/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Luke Croll


After the success of his adaptation of 'Black Coffee', Charles Osborne has gone on to adapt the play of 'The Unexpected Guest' into book form. Plot-wise, a stranger runs his car into ditch and makes his way to an isolated house for help.

There, he finds a woman standing over the body of her wheelchair-bound husband, gun in hand. She admits to murder, but the guest offers to help make a cover story. However, it is possible that she is not guilty and shielding someone else - but who?

The first thing that has to be said about this novel is that it is very short. With such a measly number of pages, it seems that not a lot can happen and in reality, that is true. However, this is hardly the fault of Osborne, who needs to stay as close as possible to the original play script. Nevertheless, it
is like eating a fast food meal - it fills you for a little while, but then you start to search for something meatier.

Also, 'Black Coffee' felt very authentic, as it starred Poirot and I really thought that Osborne had managed to capture the essence of the small Belgian detective. Because 'The Unexpected Guest' has standalone characters, it is a lot more difficult to see the original Christie. The language of the time
is there, etc., but it just didn't feel like a true Christie mystery.

In summary, 'The Unexpected Guest' is okay for a very quick read, but there's no substance to it. Perhaps the original source material was not up to scratch or perhaps it just doesn't work well as a novel, but 'Black Coffee' is a lot better. Christie fans will be disappointed.


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