Mr. Shaitana, a mysterious man who affects a sinister image, invites Hercule Poirot and three other crime-solvers to dinner, along with four other people. Unbeknownst to the other three sleuths, Shaitana has told Poirot that the other four invitees at the dinner has each committed a murder and gotten away with it. During a game of bridge after dinner, Shaitana is murdered with a small jeweled dagger from his own collection, and it’s up to the four detectives to figure out which of their dinner companions committed the crime.
Agatha Christie included a short foreword stating that this was one of Poirot’s favorite cases, but that Poirot’s friend and partner in sleuthing Captain Hastings found it boring. Cards on the Table is a variation on the locked-room mystery, and, just as Christie said, devotees of the action-free, deductive style of crime-solving will adore it while those who prefer car chases and fistfights in their mysteries will be disappointed. Highly recommended for its red herrings and satisfying conclusion.