The Three Act Tragedy is a work of crime fiction from the pen of the well known English whodunit author Agatha Christie. It was first published in America in 1934, under the title of Murder in Three Acts and later in Great Britain 1935, under the original title. The work features the Belgian specialist in high crime, Hercule Poirot, ably supported by his close friend and associate Satterthwaite.
The story begins with twelve guests sitting themselves at dinner at Sir Charles Cartrwight's bungalow, Crow's Nest in Cornwall. For the easygoing Rev. Stephen Babbington, it was a particularly unfortunate evening. As he sipped his cocktail appreciatively, he choked, experienced convulsions and gave up the ghost, all in quick succession. However, when his cocktail glass was subjected to chemical analysis, not even the smallest trace of poison was found in the glass, just as Poirot has predicted. To make things even worse, there was no evident motive for the tragic murder.
After a fortnight, there occurred a second murder, this time in Yorkshire. Seven persons who were the invitees at Crow's Nest were also present. At first, suspicion was turned toward a missing butler. Moreover, the cause of second victim's death was found to be nicotine poisoning. Then the murderer went along and did away with a third victim, who was under treatment at a sanatorium.
Three Act Tragedy is written in the third person. In it, Agatha Christie conjures up the highly individualistic character named Mr. Sattherwaite, who is an astute observer of people, especially of the nature of women. It was after the second murder that he happened to bump into Poirot at Monte Carlo. Also, it was after the second murder that Poirot started working on this case. The story ends with the great detective inviting three people to his hotel room where he dwelt at length on the circumstances of the murders and also clarified the motives. And it turned out to be that one of these three invitees was, in fact, the cold-blooded killer.
Three Act Tragedy is not considered as an Agatha Christie masterpiece. This may be because this whodunit sorely lacks in a convincing motive to murder.
The work was televised with David Suchet playing Hercule Poirot. Other best sellers from the author are Hound of Death, Murder Is Easy, ABC Murders, And Then There Were None. Shop online for this paperback book with the ISBN-10 number of 0007293232 and ISBN-13 number of 978-0007293230.