The House of Lurking Death | Partners in Crime | A Tommy & Tuppence Mystery | Agatha Christie

Miss Hargreaves quagmire

Next client of Beresfords is Miss Lois Hargreaves who lives in Thurnly Grange. A week back she received a box of chocolates. Not fond of chocolates, she passed it to others in the house. Everyone who ate those chocolates fell ill. The chocolates were sent to the doctor for analysis, and they were found to contain arsenic, enough to make ill but not to kill. She further adds that this was the third instance of poisoning in the neighborhood. Each time, a big house was selected and the inmates fell ill after eating poisoned chocolates.

Though Dr. Burton was keen on involving police, Lois preferred to engage private detectives apparently to avoid publicity and due to her distrust for local police.

When Tommy and Tuppence press, Lois reveals the real reason for not seeking police help – She suspects the perpetrator to be a member of the house. She tells them that she has a habit of drawing a doodle of three fish intertwined whenever she has a pencil in hand. She received some parcel not long back. In its label, she drew the three fish doodle. On the chocolate package, the same doodle was present. Thus she deduced that someone in the family sent the chocolates.

Family and members in the house

Money – Miss Lois was brought up by her extremely wealthy aunt Lady Radclyffe. Her husband made a big fortune and built Thurnly Grange. After the death of her husband, her aunt asked her to come and live with her. The other inmate of the house was Dennis Radclyffe, aunt Lucy’s husband’s nephew. Aunt intended to leave all her money for Dennis, except for a small provision for Lois. After her death, she left all her money to Lois. Lois attributes this change of mind to a violent quarrel the aunt had with Dennis prior to her death. Feeling bad for Dennis, Lois after turning 21 made a will leaving all money to Dennis. This new will happened three weeks back.

Servants – Mrs Holloway is the cook, her niece Rose is the kitchenmaid, Esther Quaint is the parlourmaid. There are two elderly housemaids, and Hannah – earlier aunt’s maid and now devoted to Lois. Miss Logan was aunt Lucy’s companion, and runs the house now. Captain Radyclyffe or Dennis, and Mary Chilcott, an old school friend of Lois, also stay in the house.

After getting the overview of the case and members of the house, Tommy decides they need to visit the spot for further inquiries. They tell Lois that they will disguise as Mr and Miss Van Dusen, and requested her not to confide their identity to anyone in the house.

Taking into account all the available facts, they felt Dennis Radclyffe, who gains by Lois’ death, is the most likely culprit.

Lois death

The next morning the Beresfords read in the newspaper about the death of Lois Hargreaves and her parlourmaid Esther Quant. Captain Radclyffe and Miss Logan were reported seriously ill. The cause was some fig paste used in sandwitches. Miss Chilcott who did not eat the sandwitch is fine thus establishing sandwitches as the source of ptomaine poisoning.

Tommy meets Dr Burton who rules out arsenic poisoning. Tommy is shocked when Dr Burton informs him of Captain Radclyffe’s death. The other living victim Miss Logan survives.

Next they meet Mary Chilcott. She informs them that Dennis was out for tea and did not consume the fig paste Sandwiches. On further inquiry, they get to know that Dennis had a cocktail before the dinner. Toommy takes the glass used, to be handed to Dr. Burton for analysis.

Hannah and Miss Logan

Beresfords meet Hannah during the inquiry process. She turns out to be a strange, peculiar, outrageously religious person . She quotes dark lines from scripture, bringing fire and brimstones on all concerned. Tommy sees an old book on poisons and medicines by Edward Logan, father of Miss Logan in Hannah’s room. He picks it up. When they go to meet Miss Logan, they confirm that the book belongs to her. Tuppence also observes multiple red dots on her arms.


While discussing the case with Tommy, Tuppence wonders about the small red dots on Miss Logan’s arm. They appeared as though they were made by hypodermic syringe at about forty places on her arm. Tuppence dismisses the possibility of cocaine due to absence of symptoms. They visit Dr Burton house and get the note left by him. According’s to Dr Burtons’ note, the poison employed was Ricin. Tommy takes out the book kept in his pocket and both take a look at Ricin. Tuppence, who worked in a hospital join the dots and solves the mystery.

Tuppence confronts Miss Logan and accuses her of the murders. When ricin is injected in small doses hypodermically, immunity is produced due to formation of antiricin. Those small injected doses were the reason for pinpricks on Miss Logan’s arm.


Hannah overhears this accusation. Outraged, she attacks Miss Logan with a torch. Tuppence manages to control Hannah, and Tommy stiflea the flames with a rug but they still fail to save Miss Logan. Dr Burton also arrives at the scene and confirms that the glass used by Denis too contained traces of ricin thus confirming Miss Logan’s hand in his death.

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