• Sagnik Modak

The Unexpected Guest

On a misty November evening, a stranger enters a three-storey building looking for help only to discover a man murdered in cold blood and his wife standing in a corner.

The Unexpected Guest is the novelization of Agatha Christie's 1958 play of the same name by Charles Osborne.

Michael Starkwedder runs his car into a ditch on the side of a road and makes his way through the spacious lawn of a large mansion beside the road. He knocks to no avail and finally, seeing an open window, hops in inside to save himself from the wrath of the weather. That is when he discovers a man in a wheelchair covered in blood. He soon discovers his wife holding a gun in her hand, standing at the corner of the room. She admits straight away to having killed her husband. Mystery solved, right? Well, as characteristic of most Agatha Christie novels, the intentions only unveil progressively throughout the book.

As we are introduced to a diverse collection of different characters who each seem to serve a purpose in the life of Mr. Warwick. We see Mr. Warwick as the charming person he was and could be, and as the arrogant, ignorant villain that life made him. One thing I like about the book is that every character have their own agenda, however insignificant, that drives their every action from their responses during the police interrogations to their reactions to every event. From Chapter One, all the way to the second last page, the book keeps you guessing about the identity of the killer. Slowly, but surely, everyone shares the limelight as the prime suspect in your mind - starting with Mrs. Laura Warwick, to the eccentric butler Henry Angell, the scheming Ms. Bennett, the invalid brother Mr. Jan Warwick and a very secretive character who only appears towards the end (and whose name I refrain from revealing to avoid spoilers), until finally, we arrive at a surprising conclusion. In my opinion, it is one of the most amazing mystery novels I have read in some time. Do give it a read if you can grab a copy any time soon. Happy reading!

“Men and women don't react in the same way. What it comes down to is this. Men are the more sensitive sex. Women are tough. Men can't take murder in their stride. Women apparently can.”

~ Agatha Christie, The Unexpected Guest


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