112 pages 3 hours read

Agatha Christie

The ABC Murders

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1936

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Chapters 14-17

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 14 Summary: “The Third Letter”

Hastings recalls an atmosphere of increasing anxiety waiting for the third letter, including official police scrutiny of Poirot’s mailbox. Crome becomes increasingly unhappy that none of his inquiries bear fruit, and Hastings describes Poirot as “deeply unhappy over the case” (100). Finally, Hastings hears the evening post arrive, and Poirot urges him to open the letter. It goads the detective to try to best his adversary. Poirot realizes immediately that something is wrong: the projected crime is in the village of Churston on the 30th, that day’s date, though the letter was written on the 27th. They are already out of time. Hastings and Poirot examine the envelope and realize it has been misaddressed to “Whitehorse Mansions” instead of “Whitehaven Mansions” (102). Poirot contacts Crome and decides that they should rush to Churston by train. Poirot prevents Hastings from packing for him, insisting that disrupting his wardrobe will not aid their cause.

Crome meets them at the train station and reads the letter. He rejects Hastings’s idea that the letter was misaddressed deliberately, as this would violate the killer’s stated commitment to giving Poirot advance warning. He argues that the killer was likely looking at a whiskey bottle from the Whitehorse company and simply wrote that down (104).