Agatha Christie
Dumb Witness

Starring: John Moffatt and Simon Williams
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN: 978 1 8460 7197 3
Available 08 January 2007

As Hercule Poirot sifts through his post one particular morning, he alights upon a letter from an elderly and (as it transpires), exceedingly rich spinster - Miss Emily Arundell. She is clearly in great distress and seeking his help, but doesn't say why. Her only specific mention is 'the incident of the dog's ball'. However, what intrigues Poirot is the date of the communication - it was written two months ago. He persuades Captain Hastings that they must visit the lady with all haste. On arrival, they discover that she has died, apparently of natural causes. But Bob, Miss Arundell's devoted wire-haired terrier, knows better. And so, soon, does Poirot...

Dumb Witness was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2006 and stars John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot and Simon Williams as Captain Hastings. The mystery unfolds over two CDs, as Poirot takes it upon himself to look into a crime after a rich spinster, who has written to him asking for help, winds up dead.

While her death doesn't look suspicious, Poirot is not convinced that foul play isn't involved, and sets about trying to piece together the puzzle in order to satisfy his gut feeling. As you'd expect, he is correct, but who did what and why? All is revealed over time in Poirot's own trademark style.

As a whole, this dramatisation is pretty impressive - although, the music was a little on the kitsch side. The whole production would have benefited greatly from some mood music in the background and a better theme score.

This CD collection proves, once again, why the BBC is still at the forefront of radio dramatisations, and why, even after her death, Agatha Christie is still the world's greatest crime writer.

Nick Smithson

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