It’s November in South Wales. A stranded motorist walks up on a house for help, but finds a murder instead. And so Christie’s play, The Unexpected Guest, now novelized by Charles Osborne, begins. The gentleman, Mark Starkwedder, after knocking, walks into an unlocked terrace door in hopes of calling for help, what he stumbles on is Richard Warwick dead in his wheel chair, and the wife, Laura Warwick, standing in the dark with the gun. I don’t want to go any further because the rest is vital to the mystery and how it gets so out of control. Included in the mystery are Mr. Warwick’s mother, a brother, a valet, a housekeeper, a nurse, a neighbor, a Chief Inspector, and a detective. Each character is introduced and each part is vital to the plot. The plot is classic British traditional with 9/10 of the scenes being played out in one room (map included), characters coming and going, a moody Chief Inspector, a mellow detective, and a lot of impressive curves, with the ending being the ultimate curve.
Charles Osborne has done his best to novelize a rare treat, and in my humble opinion, he did a grand job. The scenes and conversation, to me, were true to the play, almost to the point that, while reading, I could envision the characters on stage. Now I’ve heard the complaints-- “It’s to slow.” “It’s to confined.” Well, it was a play, and that is the reasoning for the limited movement and conversation. I think readers should appreciate that Mr. Osborne has brought to life another wonderful Christie mystery. It’s a great Christie fix for those fans that have read or seen all her mysteries.
Charles Osborne is an authority on theater and opera. He is also a writer and has authored The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie and novelized Agatha Christie's other play, Black Coffee.