Programming note: If you missed today's Mark Steyn Show on GB News, there's a chance to catch the rerun here at 5am GMT - that's 9pm Pacific on Friday evening, or midnight Eastern.
While you're counting the hours till that extravaganza of a reprise, welcome to Part Six of our latest nightly audio entertainment - The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie's first published novel and the book that introduced Hercule Poirot ...as a Belgian refugee in wartime England.
We have had some discussion, in my introduction and in many of your comments, about Poirot's Hastings and Holmes's Watson and the role of the star detective's second banana. Charles Rackoff, my fellow Torontonian and a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, adds:
I must remark (if it has not already been mentioned) that before Hastings and before Watson there was the anonymous narrator of the exploits of the world's first great detective, C. Auguste Dupin (as published by E. A. Poe).
That is true, Charles - and, if this serialization is well received, we may well give it a go with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. I certainly don't dispute that that is the first detective story, and that Dupin's friend functions in a similar role to Watson and Hastings. But I think the very stolid Englishness of the latter pair takes the part to a whole other level. I always like that bit Conan Doyle put in A Study in Scarlet in which Holmes mocks the way Dupin is always able to break into the narrator's interior monologues with an apropos remark.
Fortunately, Poirot does not do the same to Captain Hastings. In tonight's episode, the clue at top right above sets Hastings' imagination afire:
"Where did you find this?" I asked Poirot, in lively curiosity.
"In the waste-paper basket. You recognise the handwriting?"
"Yes, it is Mrs. Inglethorp's. But what does it mean?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"I cannot say—but it is suggestive."
A wild idea flashed across me. Was it possible that Mrs. Inglethorp's mind was deranged? Had she some fantastic idea of demoniacal possession? And, if that were so, was it not also possible that she might have taken her own life?
I was about to expound these theories to Poirot, when his own words distracted me.
If you're in the mood for something more dystopian of an evening, my serialization of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four can be heard here.
If you're minded to join us in The Mark Steyn Club, you're more than welcome. You can find more information here. And, if you have a chum you think might enjoy Tales for Our Time (so far, we've covered Conan Doyle, Baroness Orczy, Dickens, Forster, Conrad, Kipling, Kafka, Gogol, P G Wodehouse, L M Montgomery, Robert Louis Stevenson and more), we've introduced a special Gift Membership that lets you sign up a pal for the Steyn Club. You'll find more details here. Oh, and don't forget, over at the Steyn store, our Steynamite Special Offers on books, CDs, and much more.