The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley – Take 2

Poisoned ChocSir Eustace Pennefather, a known womaniser, arrives at his club at 10:30 am to receive an complimentary box of chocolates through the post. Not being impressed by such a promotional stunt, he gives the chocolates to Graham Bendix, a man who, coincidentally, owes his wife some chocolates after losing a bet. As he shares them with his wife, he only eat a couple, as they have a distinctively unpleasant taste. She, however, eats a lot of them. He becomes sick. She becomes dead…

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, it’s worth pointing out that I’ve reviewed this book before, in its usual published form. However the British Library has re-released it with a couple of extra bits and bobs.

Those bits and bobs come in the shape of two additional solutions to the crime. One is from Christianna Brand, written for a 1979 re-release in the US and now being republished for the first time. It’s a bit of fun, but it doesn’t really add much to the story, more of an embellishment to an existing solution rather than a new one.

The second, and more substantial, extra is from blog-favourite Martin Edwards, who continues the tale from the end of Brand’s contribution, dismissing that ending quickly before adding a new one that carries some emotional heft and brings a new suspect to the table – and also, interestingly, actually confirms their guilt. It’d be a talented writer who could undo his ending and add yet another killer…

I’m not sure that I can truly recommend buying a new copy based solely on the additional eighteen pages if you’ve already read the book, but this is one of those rarities, a classic that is also a genuinely good read (unlike that damn train book) and if you haven’t read it, or want a new copy, then this is a must buy. Highly Recommended.

For my thoughts on the original book, by the way, see my original review.

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. My major complaint against the book is that several solutions are possible any of which may be regarded as correct. In fact, one of the false solutions of the novel is the correct solution in the short story !

    Like

  2. […] Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel: [T]he British Library has re-released it with a couple of extra bits and bobs.  Those bits and bobs come in the shape of two additional solutions to the crime. One is from Christianna Brand, written for a 1979 re-release in the US and now being republished for the first time. It’s a bit of fun, but it doesn’t really add much to the story, more of an embellishment to an existing solution rather than a new one.  The second, and more substantial, extra is from blog-favourite Martin Edwards, who continues the tale from the end of Brand’s contribution, dismissing that ending quickly before adding a new one that carries some emotional heft and brings a new suspect to the table – and also, interestingly, actually confirms their guilt. […]

    Like

  3. Personally the extra solutions did nothing for me. The style of the Brand addition felt jarringly different and the Edwards solution felt a little rushed and introduced too much new information. Most of the original detectives would leisurely describe their investigation, giving the reader plenty of chance too see where they were going, and by the time of the final chapter all the clues had really been given, it was just a matter of finding a new interpretation of them. I suppose that Edwards did the best he could given that Berkeley had not prepared for an extra chapter but I think the exercise could as well have been skipped.

    As for the original book, I agree that the there were several possible solutions, which I take it was part of the point. I enjoyed it anyway.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s