The Smell of the Veldt

Read the book…best.

Watch the programme…love it :o)

For the lazy WikiTribe :

Multi-millionaire Simeon Lee, frail in his old age, unexpectedly invites his family to gather at his home for Christmas. The gesture is met with suspicion by the guests. Simeon is not given to warm family sentiment, and the family are not on good terms, in particular, with the black sheep of the family, Harry. Simeon also searched out his orphaned, Spanish-born granddaughter, Pilar Estravados, to live in his house. None have met their late sister Jennifer’s daughter before; she proves to be delightful. Simeon is intent on playing a cruel game with his family’s emotions. Stephen Farr, a surprise guest, arrives on Christmas Eve. He is the son of Simeon’s former partner in the diamond mines, welcomed warmly by Simeon. Simeon calls his family together that afternoon, to hear him on the telephone with his attorney, saying he wants to update his will after Christmas. This incomplete information stirs up negative feelings among his sons and their wives.

After dinner on Christmas Eve, the sounds of crashing of furniture and a hideous scream are heard by several, who rush to Simeon’s room. When they get to his door, they find it locked and have to break it down. The sight revealed includes heavy furniture overturned, crockery smashed, and Simeon dead, his throat slit, in a great pool of blood, a grisly and shocking sight. The local police superintendent is already at the front door, before anyone could call the police. Superintendent Sugden notices Pilar pick up something from the floor. He insists that she give the small bit of rubber and a small object made of wood to him.

Sugden explains that he is at the house by prior arrangement with the victim, who confided to him the theft of a substantial quantity of uncut diamonds from his safe. Poirot accompanies Colonel Johnson to investigate this murder. The murder generates many questions. How was the victim killed inside a locked room? Was the murder connected to the theft of the diamonds? And what is the significance of the small triangle of rubber and the peg first noticed by Pilar?

Poirot’s investigation explores the victim’s methodical and vengeful nature and the way these characteristics come out in his sons, and observes physical traits as well. Each son, and perhaps one of the wives, appears as a suspect to the investigators. When the butler mentions his confusion about the identities of the house guests, Poirot realises that the four sons of Simeon’s marriage may not be Simeon’s only sons present in the home. Poirot finds the uncut diamonds mixed in with the stones of a decorative outdoor garden, which takes theft away as a motive. The family lawyer reads Simeon’s will, which leaves half to son Alfred, who runs the business, and the other half to be split among his other children. This leaves Pilar with nothing, as her mother died a year earlier, and his granddaughter is not specifically named. Alfred, David and Harry agree to pool their inheritances and make a share for Pilar. This warm gesture, based on what is just, as Lydia tells her, upsets Pilar, and she refuses it. The final major clue comes from Pilar. She and Stephen are playing with balloons and one bursts; she mentions that the pieces are like what she found on the floor after Simeon Lee was killed. Poirot warns her to be “on her guard”, as she knows more than she realises. Soon she is almost killed in another murder attempt, of a stone cannonball perched above her bedroom door.

A cable comes from South Africa reporting that the son of Simeon’s partner was dead; Stephen Farr admits his name is Stephen Grant, and he is in England to meet his father, from Simeon’s last trip to South Africa, five years after his marriage in England. After that, Pilar reveals the story of the death of the real Pilar as the two crossed Spain during its civil war, and her own plan to arrive in England in her stead. With this knowledge, Sugden tries to blame the murder on Pilar. Then Poirot takes over and explains the crime. Poirot reveals that Sugden was another illegitimate child of Simeon, from an affair with a local girl. Sugden hated the man who abandoned his mother, paying her off. Sugden planned his revenge carefully and murdered his father hours before he set off the noisy sound effects.

David is relieved of his years of anger toward his father for mistreating his mother. Stephen takes Pilar, now Conchita Lopez, to South Africa, to marry her. Lydia will invite them to a proper English Christmas.

I’d do a twofer but Andrea D (monkeewrench) hijacked that in a Handsome & Clever live chat. FACT!

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