AGATHA CHRISTIE – An Overdose of Death. Hercule Poirot #22. First published in the UK as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (Collins Crime Club, hardcover, Nov 1940). First US edition published by Dodd Mead under the title The Patriotic Murders (hardcover, Feb 1941). Reprinted by Dell in the US in 1953 as An Overdose of Death. Many other reprint editions exist, in both hardcover and paperback.

   The question is, why did a quiet, unassuming and otherwise quite unremarkable dentist commit suicide in the middle of the afternoon on a day no different than other day? When one of his morning’s patients is later found dead from an overdose of a numbing agent the dentist used, the police think they know.

   Hercule Poirot is not so sure.

   This is a beautifully constructed puzzle mystery, with patients for both the deceased dentist and his partner in and out all morning, with stairs, an elevator and a front door that may or not have been fully attended. Lots of suspects, in other words, with just as many motives and opportunities. This is as totally expected from a Christie novel of this time period. Not quite as expected is the political aspect of the story, with part of the story line involving left wing agitators speaking out against the conservative upper class who never want to change anything.

   Does that have anything to do with the mystery and who did it? You’ll have to read this one for yourself. Christie is in very good form here, and while you may figure out the puzzle before Poirot does, I’m willing to wager you won’t. Either way, when I say “beautifully constructed,” I mean it. You will also be surprised how simple the explanation is. If nothing else, Christie was an absolute master of misdirection.