The Regatta Mystery

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The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories
The Regatta Mystery US First Edition Cover 1939.jpg
Dust-jacket illustration of the first US edition
Author Agatha Christie
Country United States
Language English
Genre Crime novel
Publisher Dodd, Mead and Company
Publication date
1939
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 229 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN N/A
Preceded by Murder is Easy
Followed by And Then There Were None

The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories is a short story collection written by Agatha Christie and first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1939.[1] The first edition retailed at $2.00.[1]

The stories feature, with one exception (In a Glass Darkly), Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Parker Pyne, Christie's famed detectives. The collection was not published in the UK and was the first time a Christie book was published in the US without a comparable publication in the UK; however all of the stories in the collection were published in later UK collections (see UK book appearances of stories below).

Stories[edit]

The Regatta Mystery (the title story) has Mr Parker Pyne catch a diamond thief during regatta festivities at Dartmouth harbour.

The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest concerns how a dead body found its way into the titular chest in the midst of a dance party. Arthur Hastings chronicles Hercule Poirot's unravelling of the mystery.

How Does Your Garden Grow? is a line from the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary", which Poirot is reminded of when visiting a country house with a beautifully maintained garden whose mistress has just died – after writing a cryptic letter requesting his help.

The Problem at Pollensa Bay concerns a mother's dislike for her son's fiancee. The problem is solved (non-violently) by fellow vacationer Parker Pyne.

In Yellow Iris, Poirot follows an anonymous phone call to a restaurant table laden with the favourite flower of a woman who died mysteriously four years before. This story was expanded and made into the full-length mystery Sparkling Cyanide, featuring Colonel Race instead of Poirot.

Miss Marple Tells a Story is written in the first person by the elderly sleuth, who recalls solving (without leaving her own chair) a seemingly impossible murder.

In The Dream, an eccentric millionaire tells Poirot of a troubling dream in which he kills himself – and is found dead a week later.

In a Glass Darkly is the only story in the collection not to feature one of Christie's detectives (it is told by an anonymous narrator), and the only one to invoke the supernatural. Its title alludes to the phrase "Through a glass darkly", used by the Apostle Paul to describe how we currently view the world.

In Problem at Sea, a rich woman is found dead in her cabin on a luxury ship off the shore of Alexandria. The story concludes with Poirot saying: "I do not approve of murder."

Literary reception[edit]

In The New York Times Book Review for 25 June 1939, Isaac Anderson mentioned by name Miss Marple Tells a Story and went on to say that, "Neither this story nor any of the others is comparable to the longer works of Agatha Christie, but that is scarcely to be expected, for the detective story, more perhaps than any other type of fiction, needs continued suspense to hold the reader's interest, and very few authors have been able to manage that within the limits of the short story."[2]

An unnamed reviewer in the Toronto Daily Star (30 June 1939) wrote, regarding the title story The Regatta Mystery, that "Agatha Christie succeeds in baffling her readers ... [B]ut far from plausible is her solution", and went on generally to say, "The author is handicapped by attempting to compress her plots into 27-odd pages each. Nor has she opportunity for continued suspense."[3]

Publication history[edit]

  • 1939, Dodd, Mead and Company, Hardback, 229 pp
  • 1939, Lawrence E. Spivak (New York), Abridged edition, 126 pp
  • 1946, Avon Books, Paperback, (Avon number 85)
  • 1964, Dell Books, Paperback, (Dell number 7336), 192 pp

First publication of stories in the US[edit]

  • The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest: January 1932 (Volume LIIX, Number 1) issue of the Ladies Home Journal with an illustration by Robert E. Lee.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?: June 1935 (Volume LII, Number 6) issue of the Ladies Home Journal with illustrations by Mead Schaeffer.
  • Problem at Pollensa Bay: 5 September 1936 (Volume 13, Number 36) issue of Liberty magazine under the title Siren Business with an illustration by James Montgomery Flagg.
  • Yellow Iris: 10 October 1937 edition of the Hartford courant newspaper under the title "Case of the Yellow Iris" with an uncredited illustration.
  • In a Glass Darkly: 28 July 1934 (Volume 94, Number 4) issue of Collier's Weekly with an illustration by Harry Morse Meyers.
  • Problem at Sea: 12 January 1936 issue of the weekly newspaper supplement This Week magazine with an illustration by Stanley Parkhouse.

The original version of The Regatta Mystery featured Hercule Poirot. The story was later rewritten by Christie to change the detective from Poirot to Parker Pyne for book publication and all collections in both the US and UK contain the Pyne version of the story. The original Poirot version appeared in 3 May 1936 edition of the Hartford courant newspaper with an uncredited illustration. It surfaced again in 2008 as part of the three-volume Harper collection, Agatha Christie: The Complete Short Stories – Masterpieces in Miniature. (The story appears as the postscript to the Poirot volume.)

Miss Marple Tells a Story was specially commissioned by the BBC as a radio play and read by Christie herself on 11 May 1934 on BBC's National Programme. No print publications of the story prior to 1939 are known. For first publications in the UK, see the applicable UK collections below.

UK book appearances of stories[edit]

The stories contained in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories appear in the following UK collections:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b American Tribute to Agatha Christie
  2. ^ The New York Times Book Review, 25 June 1939 (p. 6)
  3. ^ Toronto Daily Star, 30 June 1939 (p. 12)

External links[edit]