Narrators of Agatha Christie
The most well-known narrator in Agatha Christie's mysteries is probably Arthur Hastings. He narrates in Agatha's first published work, and Hercule Poirot's first story, The Mysterious
Affair at Styles. He was the "Doctor Watson" to Poirot, and a vicarious voice for the reader. There are certainly other narrators in Agatha Christie's myseries. There are four other
narrators for Poirot's cases, plus others Agatha used in her books. Below is a small list in alphabetical order of the narrators' names, with their mini-bio, and the stories that they narrate.
None of the books are spoiled or ruined in this article.
Anstruther -- "The Hound of Death"
Anstruther narrates his hearing of a mysterious nun from Mr. Ryan, and American newspaper reporter. The narrator tells of meeting this nun who hallucinates, Sister Marie Angelique and a Doctor
Rose who is observing her. The narrator ends his story with the natural disaster that befalls both the nun and the doctor, or supposes something else sinister and powerful happened.
Anne Beddingfeld -- The Man in the Brown Suit
Anne is one of two narrators Agatha employs in this early novel of travel and adventure. Anne was the daughter of an eccentric anthropologist. She called herself "Anna the Adventuress" and
compared herself to the heroine of the classic film "The Perils of Pauline". After spotting the "Man in the Brown Suit" at the Hyde Park tube station, she becomes a willing participant in an
adventure that takes her to South Africa. She meets British Secret Service agent Colonel Race (in his first appearance) and finds love out in South Africa.
Jerry Burton -- The Moving Finger
Recuperating from his war wounds as a pilot, he and his sister Joanna rented a home in a quiet country village. It was here that they received a poison pen letter suggesting they were lovers
instead of siblings. He relates that others in the village had received similar anonymous, mean-spirited letters. Before too long, murders start being committed, and he meets a shrewd elderly
lady who helps puts a stop to the lettters. That elderly spinster who helps happens to be the famous Miss Jane Marple.
Dr. Edward Carstairs -- "The Strange Case of Sir Arthur Carmichael"
An eminent psychologist and believer in the occult, he narrated the peculiar visit to the Carmichael home. He was called in by his friend and fellow physician Dr. Settle to investigate more
than just a mere "mental case". Carstairs was baffled that young Sir Arthur exhibited peculiar mannerisms of a cat. Something to note here is that "Sir Arthur" has also been erroneously published
as "Sir Andrew" in the title in a few American editions, but retains the name of "Arthur" within the text.
Edward Catchpool -- The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket
In the Poirot mystery The Monogram Murders (published in 2014 and written by author Sophie Hannah), Edward Catchpool is a policeman for Scotland Yard. He had been with the Yard for
two years and a policeman for five. He is a young man of thirty-two who enjoys crossword puzzles and, in fact, fills his free time by creating one himself. He resides in a London lodging house
owned by a Mrs. Blanche Unsworth. It is there that he meets Hercule Poirot as Poirot takes a room for himself to rest from his labors. Catchpool narrates their investigation of three murders at
London's Bloxham Hotel. This case proves difficult for Catchpool, as a tragedy in his past interferes with his police work.
Edward Catchpool is reunited with Hercule Poirot eight months later in Sophie Hannah's follow-up novel, Closed Casket (2016). They are amongst the guests at Lillieoak, the home of
Lady Athelinda Playford, a writer of detective stories for children. The setting is quite the opposite of London in the previous novel; they travel to the small town of Clonakilty, in County
Cork, the southernmost county in Ireland. They're invited to Lillieoak to prevent murder of the supposed victim, only to find the killer had a different victim in mind.
Reverend Leonard Clement -- Murder at the Vicarage
Clement was the vicar of St. Mary Mead and Jane Marple's next door neighbor. He appears also in The Body in the Library, but narrates only this story. We learn about the country
village life through his eyes and of his married life to Griselda, twenty years his junior. He tells how he discovered the body of Colonel Protheroe in his study, shot in the head. The vicar and
Marple confer with each other and decide to lay a trap for the murderer.
Mark Easterbrook -- The Pale Horse
Mark was an author living in Chelsea writing a book on Mogul architecture when he becomes involved in a sinister plot of "death by remote control". He narrates the greater portion of the
novel, describing his meeting with modern witches associated with the Pale Horse Inn and aiding Detective Inspector Lejeune. Mark receives help from friends, including his cousin Rhoda Despard
(nee Dawes, from the novel Cards on the Table) and the mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver.
Captain Arthur Hastings
Hastings was recuperating in Styles St. Mary from fighting in WWI when he was reunited with his good friend, Hercule Poirot. He was the chronicler of 8 novels and 26 short stories that
detailed the Belgian detective's cases. He moves off to Argentina with his wife to manage a ranch in Argentina. He returns much older and decades later to witness and narrate Poirot's final
case in the story titled Curtain. There are two stories that Hastings relates in which Poirot himself is the narrator, as seen below. For more on Hastings, including the stories which
feature his appearance, you can visit the "Poirot's Allies" article.
Charles Hayward -- Crooked House
Charles met Sophia Leonides while both served in the Diplomatic Service, and when he returns to England they renew their friendship. It was at that same time that Sophia's
rich grandfather had died of poisoning. He narrates his life with Sophia (whom he desires to marry) and the assistance he provides to the police in the investigation of Aristide Leonides' death.
He also speaks warmly of the relationship he shares with his father, "The Old Man", who happens to be the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard.
Colin Lamb -- The Clocks
Colin Lamb was a marine biologist helping the Sercret Service when he meets a young woman who finds a dead body. He narrates half the novel, giving his own point-of-view of the police
proceedings in the investigation of three murders while describing his own adventures into espionage. Curiously, he was acquainted with both the mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver and the Belgian
detective Hercule Poirot. It was Poirot that he contacts to help assist him and Detective Inspector Hardcastle in investigating the murder of a Mr. Curry.
Nurse Amy Leatheran -- Murder in Mesopotamia
She was the thirty-five year old narrator of the Mesopotamia adventure, and a "professional character of the highest" with glossy brown hair. She was requested by Dr. Reilly to put the
events in Iraq down on paper. She was hired by the archaeologist Dr. Leidner to care for his wife Louise. She also assisted Poirot in the investigation of the murders of two people at the
archaeological dig there.
Miss Jane Marple -- "Miss Marple Tells a Story"
This is the only story in which Jane Marple herself narrates. She explains how she correctly identified a murderer, and saving a husband from a murder charge. She recounts the tale to her
nephew Raymond and his wife Joan in a very conversational and chatty manner. She's so natural in retelling the story that she, in fact, editorializes her own story. By reading this short story,
any reader gets to know Marple's personality better.
Sir Eustace Pedler -- The Man in the Brown Suit
Pedler was a Member of Parliament who narrates how the government sent him down to South Africa with important documents from the Prime Minister. He provides, along with Anne Beddingfeld's
own perspective, a fairly candid and very comical narration. He is an affable and comical character: he shares his frustration with having four different secretaries, his disappointment of
dressing up as a Teddy Bear for a fancy dress dance, and the annoyance of travelling with Anne and her 49 wooden animals. Pedler, like Colonel Race, proposes marriage to Anne but gets turned down.
Michael Rogers -- Endless Night
Arguably Agatha Christie's last best effort, this story is narrated by a young working class male and ne'er-do-well who's had trouble staying in one job for an extended period of time.
Michael is an astonishing accomplishment for Agatha, because she's a 75-year-old accomplished writer and woman writing in the voice of this young man. He tells the story of meeting rich
heiress Ellie Guteman and their happy life together. They marry and have a modern house built on Gipsy's Acre, a cursed land. He tells how his and Ellie's happiness soon turns to sadness, evil,
and local hostility.
Dr. James Sheppard -- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
The brother of Caroline Sheppard, he was the physician and friend of Roger Ackroyd in the village of King's Abbot. In his spare time, the doctor enjoyed playing Mah Jong and tinkering in his
workshop. His next-door neighbor was the retired detective Hercule Poirot, whom Sheppard incorrectly presumed was a hairdresser. Sheppard replaced Arthur Hastings (who had moved to Argentina)
as the narrator of the Ackroyd case and assisted Poirot with the investigations.
Georgie -- "Within a Wall"
Georgie is the narrator of this short story found in the short story collection While the Light Lasts, published in the UK, or The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories (US).
This unique narrator lacks a last name and is privy to family matters of a painter named Alan Everard and his wife, the society girl Isobel Loring. Georgie and Mrs. Lempriere (an intelligent art
critic) "discover" that the inspiration of Everard's paintings is Jane Haworth, his five-year-old daughter's godmother. The narrator Georgie describes in detail the triangle that is the painter,
his wife, and his muse. Georgie is a unique narrator because he first speaks in the first person point of view (singular and plural) and then switches to a third-person approach. As he sets out
to tell the story, Georgie declares: "Call some of my story invention if you will--it is not far from the truth."
Unnamed Narrator -- "In a Glass Darkly"
The narrator of this short story, included in the collection The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, is the only nameless one in Agatha Christie's works. The unnamed narrator tells
of his visit with his best friend Neil Carslake and meeting Neil's sister Sylvia, who is engaged to a man named Charles. The unnamed narrator has a vision in which he sees a man strangling a
young woman, who happens to be Sylvia. After he tells this story to Sylvia, she breaks off her engagement. Time passes--4 years later--and the anonymous narrator professes his love to Sylvia,
only later to have to his vision become reality...
Narratives Within a Work
Hercule Poirot -- "The Lost Mine" and "The Chocolate Box"
These two stories (originally collected in the US as Poirot Investigates and later in the UK as Poirot's Early Cases) were both narrated by Hercule Poirot, as related by
Arthur Hastings. As being the narrator of these two short stories, Poirot deserves inclusion in this list. (The difference between Poirot's stories and the Marple one mentioned above is that
the Marple story is strictly told in her own words entirely, whereas the Poirot cases are retold by Hastings to the reader.) The first case is "The Lost Mine", in which Poirot explains to
Hastings the importance of following only safe investments ("strictly to the conservative", he tells Hastings). His story relates how he was asked by Burma Mines, Ltd. to investigate the death
of Wu Ling, a Chinese man who had documents detailing the location of a lost silver mine in Burma. In "The Chocolate Box", Poirot tells Hastings about his only failure in detection. Poirot is
asked to investigate the death of a successful French politician, only to fail because he didn't focus on the obvious clues.
The Thirteen Problems
In this short story collection (also titled The Tuesday Club Murders in the US), we get the first appearance of Miss Jane Marple in print. These stories first appeared in magazine
form in 1927, less than 3 years before Miss Marple's appearance in her first novel, Murder at the Vicarage. The premise of this book is that six people (forming the Tuesday Night Club)
meet every week on Tuesday night at Marple's home to solve mysteries. One member relates a story to the group (that he or she knows the solution to) which the other five attempt to solve. Of
course, it's Marple who provides the solutions to all the mysteries. The first six stories (chapters) are told by the Club members at Marple's home, the next six are related a year later at the
home of the Bantrys during a dinner party, and the final story occurs some time after that dinner party in Marple's village of St. Mary Mead.
The narrators of each of these stories follow in order:
- Sir Henry Clithering, former Commissioner of Scotland Yard
- Dr. Pender, the elderly parish clergyman
- Raymond West, Marple's nephew & novelist
- Joyce Lempriere (renamed Joan West), artist & future wife of Raymond
- Mr. Petherick, Marple's lawyer
- Miss Jane Marple, elderly spinster & amateur sleuth
- Colonel Bantry, country squire & owner of Gossington Hall
- Dr. Lloyd, elderly doctor of St. Mary Mead
- Sir Henry Clithering, good friend of Marple's & former Scotland Yard man
- Miss Jane Marple, elderly resident of St. Mary Mead & amateur sleuth
- Dolly Bantry, wife of the Colonel & best friend of Marple's
- Jane Helier, beautiful & popular actress
- None--told outside context of dinner party in 3rd person
Multiple Points of View/Narratives
The ABC Murders
In yet another unique narrative style, Arthur Hastings shares his narration with an omniscient, 3rd person narrator. The story details Poirot's and the police's efforts to hunt down a serial
killer who chooses his victims by their names and residences, going down letter by letter. Hastings writes a forward confirming that up until this case, he detailed "incidents and scenes at
which I myself was present". Not so with this case. Hastings does write a disclaimer, saying: "I wish to assure my readers that I can vouch for the occurrences related in these chapters. If I
have taken a certain poetic licence in describing the thoughts and feelings of various persons, it is because I believe I have set them down with a resonable amount of accuracy." Curiously, that
sounds like Hastings wrote those eight chapters in which he wasn't present also.
There is something of interest in Hastings' forward that needs a simple mention. He says the Poirot taught him once "in a very dramatic manner that romance can be a by-product of crime",
referring to the personal relationships to those involved in the serial killings of the ABC Murderer.
And Then There Were None
Technically, this novel (also published as Ten Little Niggers and Ten Little Indians) doesn't belong in this article because there is no narration. However,
Agatha Christie's masterpiece shouldn't be overlooked. The third-person narrative still provides the points of view from the ten strangers on
the island. One reason why this novel is fantastic is the mere fact that we know the guests' thoughts. Knowing their thoughts heightens the tension and terror they feel which then transfers
from the pages to the reader. Agatha goes as far as giving us (extensively) very deep and disturbing thoughts of one of the ten. Take for example these excerpts from the novel:
"One of us is possessed by a devil. I had already suspected that. Which of us is it?"
"Why did I make a hysterical fool of myself? That was a mistake."
"I'm going crazy. Wool disappearing--red silk curtains--it doesn't make sense. I can't get the hang of it ..."
"The damned fool, he believed every word I said to him. It was easy ... I must be careful, though, very careful."
Amongst the original ideas for the novel, Agatha was to include a "watcher"--a nameless person observing the guests' actions on the island. That was to be included in the narrative for the
reader's benefit. What Agatha decided, however, was to share the thoughts of the characters instead with the reader (for more, please read John Curran's excellent 2009 book Agatha
Christie's Secret Notebooks). The sharing of the thoughts is powerful (and successful) in futhering the story. This allows us to feel the inescapable and impending doom of those trapped
on the island.
Five Little Pigs
In this unique mystery (published in the US as Murder in Retrospect), Poirot solves the murder of painter Amyas Crale without any access to the immediate crime scene--16 years later.
This is unique, for Poirot learns truths from witnesses of the mystery from each of their points of view. These witnesses vary from the attorneys, the police inspector, and the the "five little
pigs" of the drama. From the five specific "little pigs", Poirot gains more perspective because of their varying perspectives. Besides his interviews with these five participants, he
has detailed first-person narratives from them.
Spanning from chapters 7 through 9, we have the narratives from (in this order): Philip Blake, Meredith Blake, Lady Dittisham, Cecilia Williams, and Angela Warren. Since these are their
narratives, these narratives are selective, biased, and obviously not complete. Poirot admits that these manuscripts do not paint "necessarily a true narrative". He even accuses Philip Blake
at having written a narrative with deliberate omissions.
In 1943, the Times Literary Supplement said this about Five Little Pigs: "No crime enthusiast will object that the story of how the painter died has to be told many times."
In the version adapted for the stage (the play was titled Go Back for Murder), each of the participants narrates a part of the tragedy of Amyas Crale in Act II. This novel is arguably
the best of Agatha Christie's "murder in retrospect" mysteries, the others being Dumb Witness, Sparkling Cyanide, Ordeal by Innocence, Hallowe'en Party,
Elephants Can Remember, and Sleeping Murder.