THE HARLEQUIN TEA SET
and Other Stories
Don't get your hopes up: Six of these nine stories are inconsequential, if smoothly told, romances in Christie's Mary Westmacott mode. The exceptions include "Manx Gold," a labored and underclued treasure-hunt; "The Mystery of the Spanish Chest," an expansion (actually a dilution) of one of Christie's most successful stories, "The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest," which shows how poorly served the tale is by subtracting Hastings and expanding Poirot's dialogues with the suspects; and the title story, a pale reunion of Mr. Satterthwait and the spectral Harley Quin 40 years after their first meeting. Christie completists will treasure the three low-grade stories for all their flaws. But the collection is the worst possible introduction to one of the genre's true masters.