Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Audiobook: Cards On The Table

Cards On The Table
Written by Agatha Christie
Performed by a full BBC Cast
It was the match-up of the century: four sleuths--Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard; Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, famed writer of detective stories; Col. Race of His Majesty's Secret Service; and the incomparable Hercule Poirot - invited to play bridge with four specially invited guests, each of whom had gotten away with murder! But before the first rubber was completed, the host was dead.
I went through a stage in my early teens when I read through all the Hercule Poirot books I could get my hands on. I never liked Miss Marple for some reason, but I couldn’t get enough of ‘ze little grey cells’. So when I came across a BBC audio drama based on one Poirot’s cases I thought I would give it a spin.
This is only a short play – only 1 hour 45 minutes in total, but the mystery is intriguing. The host of a dinner party is murdered in the same room as four people he claimed had gotten away with murder. This is one of the original who-dunnits with no mystery really over how it was done. There is no crime scene investigation – all the investigation was done through talking and thinking – with Poirot making the connections between what people said and what that means. However, what is surprising is how little Poirot actually does in this story. It might be the way the story has been adapted for radio but here he has one of suspects visit him and count stockings (really!) but apart from that he all he does is talk about bridge. I don’t play bridge – and have no idea what the rules or method is – and it isn’t explained. Perhaps Christie thought that everyone knew how to play and it doesn’t need explaining – but times changes and all the discussion around the match is lost on me. Unfortunately there is a lot of discussion – and I found my attention drifting at times.
The voice acting is top notch – with each character brought to life and given some very different characters by some of the best of British voice artists. Overall, though I think the set up and idea is better than the execution here.
Recommended for fans of Agatha Christie and Jules Verne. 6 out of 10.


  1. I shall certainly get this audio! I came across your website because I not only play bridge but have a blog/ezine about playing SOCIABLE bridge (not the serious silent competitive kind)at And therefore I have a Google Alert for "play bridge."

    When this mystery was written -- 30s, right? -- EVERYBODY played bridge. It was the essential social skill if you wanted to get invited to house parties especially. I published a book about sociable bridge few years ago--Bridge Table or What's Trump Anyway?--and in doing research for it, became clear that hostesses back then (especially having house guests) considered bridge "the hostess's best friend" because you didn't have to entertain bridge players--they never got enough bridge. All you had to do was have a few decks of cards and give them a few refreshments.

    It's my "bucket list" cause, at 91--hence my book and blog--that bridge live on after all the bridge-playing old ladies like me are gone.

  2. Fun! I love British accents (who doesn't) so I know I'd enjoy listening to a who-dunnits like this.

  3. Meh, that is all this book is getting from em, I am in a meh mood

  4. I do not like those BBC Radio 4 Full Cast Dramatisations! My Dad has an immense audiobook collection but most of them are plays and I just can't get along with them, it's all the sound effects I don't like.

  5. Oh I never thought of listening to these. I've heard radio versions of old stories so I'm curious about these BBC ones.