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GKCfan mod


Wisconsin, United States
Last Active
Member, Moderator
  • Re: Crooked House Movie

    Thanks for sharing this!  My guess is that Charles and Sophia met during the war, so that may be a scene from a bomb exploding in wartime... or else (SPOILERS) it's from the car crash at the end.
  • Re: Murder on the Orient Express - Why is Colonel Armstrong refered to by 3 first names?


    As for Colonel Armstrong's first name, I think there are three explanations:

    1.   Colonel Arbuthnot deliberately gave the wrong name to give the impression he didn't really know Col. Armstrong very well.
    2.  A typo that was further messed up by a sloppy editor– since "R" and "T" are next to each other on the keyboard, it's certainly possible that Christie meant to write "Robby," but accidentally typed "Tobby" and didn't catch it, and the editor changed it to "Toby."
    3.  (The most likely in my opinion.)  It's not that common, but "Toby" is sometimes used as a diminutive form of "Robert."  It actually kind of makes sense, if you consider (I'm thinking of Hastings' musings in Peril at End House here) that "Peggy"" can be a nickname for "Margaret."  Or, knowing how nicknames come about, perhaps someone once noticed that he bore a resemblance to a certain Toby jug and the nickname stuck.

       But as you note, in Mrs. Hubbard's final comments, she refers to her late son-in-law as "John!"  This could probably be written off as a mistake on Christie's part, although I am reminded of the big Sherlockian scholarly debate over Watson's middle name– we know his name is John H. Watson, but his wife calls him "James."  People have discussed this for years, but Dorothy L. Sayers created the most widely accepted answer in her famous essay.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle only provided the initial "H.," but Sayers argued that since Watson had Scotch ancestry, his middle name was very likely "Hamish," which is the Scotch version of "James."  Sayers argues that many wives found the name "John" too ordinary, and that Mrs. Mary Watson took to referring to her husband by the Anglicized version of his middle name.  The middle name "Hamish" has been so widely accepted by Sherlockians that it's been incorporated into The Seven Percent Solution and in the BBC series Sherlock, Watson makes it clear in A Scandal in Belgravia that his middle name is "Hamish."  I submit that something similar is at play here.

       I therefore argue that the Colonel's full name was John Robert Armstrong, and that since "John" was a very common name, perhaps to distinguish himself from other boys, early in his life he started going by his middle name, "Robert," but was nicknamed "Toby" by his friends in the military.  Agatha Christie Ltd. backs up this assumption with the case of Major (later Colonel) Despard.  He's John Despard in Cards on the Table, but his wife Rhoda calls him "Hugh" in their second appearance in The Pale Horse.  Agatha Christie Ltd. officially announced that his full name was "John Hugh Despard," and his wife addressed him by his middle name.  It therefore makes perfect sense that Colonel Armstrong's name follows the same pattern.
  • Re: A test for murder.

    Many mystery magazines changed the titles of Christie's stories– she commented on that in one of her short stories.  Could you please provide some information, like a summary of the story, the names of the central characters, and the details of the crime (preferably without spoilers)?  If I'm correct in thinking that this is an already-known Christie story that was simply retitled, that will help me figure out which story is in your issue of JCMM.
  • Re: Actress Muriel Pavlow and Miss Marple

    Yes, Ms. Pavlow played Miss Marple in a 1976 stage production of Murder at the Vicarage.  https://www.abebooks.com/MURDER-VICARAGE-PROGRAM-CHRISTIE-AGATHA-FORTUNE/1170838154/bd.

    Here's a contest Sophie Hannah is holding for her next Poirot continuation novel.  


    It’s simple…
    All you need to do is read the character description below and come up with a name that you think will suit the character.
    Then enter your idea into the form below and vote on one other entry that you think works well.

    The Character 

    A man in his late fifties: eminently respectable, professional. Smartly dressed, grey-haired, bespectacled. Tall and thin. So ordinary looking that he almost looks sinister – as if the ordinariness and respectability might be a disguise of some kind. He’s the solicitor of the murder victim, and he’s become a longstanding family friend over the years. He handles the deceased’s considerable estate. He has a strong sense of duty but very little imagination. When he is able to help Poirot, it’s by passing on what he knows about the characters of the family members. He is slightly naive, and cannot bring himself to believe that anyone associated with himself might be murdered.

    Sophie will announce the winning name on Facebook on Sunday 6th August shortly after 8pm when the competition closes. The winner will also be notified by email.

    Sophie’s decision as to which name she uses in the novel will be final, but she will take into account which names are the most popular!