Mr Shaitana, a flamboyant collector, meets Hercule Poirot by chance at an art exhibition and brags about his personal crime-related collection. Scoffing at the idea of collecting mere artefacts, Shaitana explains that he collects only the best exhibits: criminals who have evaded justice. He invites Poirot to a dinner party to meet them. Poirot’s fellow guests include three other crime professionals: secret serviceman Colonel Race, mystery writer Mrs Ariadne Oliver, and Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard; along with four people Shaitana believes to be murderers: Dr Roberts, Mrs Lorrimer, Anne Meredith, and Major Despard. Shaitana taunts his suspects with comments that each understands as applying only to them. The guests retire to play bridge, the professionals playing in one room while the others play in a second room where Shaitana relaxes by the fire. As the party breaks up, Shaitana is found to be dead – stabbed in the chest with a stiletto from his own collection. None of the suspects can be ruled out, as all had moved around during the evening. Leading the police investigation, Superintendent Battle agrees to put his “cards on the table” and to allow the other professionals to make their own enquiries. Poirot concentrates on the psychology of the murderer.
Cards on the Table
Mr. Shaitana is famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he is a man of whom everybody is a little afraid. So when he boasts to Hercule Poirot that he considers murder an art form, the detective has some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana’s “private collection.”
Indeed, what begins as an absorbing evening of bridge is to turn into a more dangerous game altogether.…