***Spoiler for Lord Edgware Dies and “The Wrong Shape”— read it here if you’d like to before continuing on.*** 🙂
Almost immediately after I posted my speculations about whether Christie borrowed an idea from Chesterton’s Father Brown story “The Sign of the Broken Sword” for The A.B.C. Murders, I ran across something else. Soaking in the bathtub the other day and reading Lord Edgware Dies, I was reminded of another Chesterton story.
In “The Wrong Shape,” the solution to the mystery is uncovered because the murderer snips off a tiny, upper-left corner of the paper on which the victim had been writing. We are to assume at first that the paper is a suicide note, but Father Brown realizes that the paper is the wrong shape because quotation marks have been snipped off the top corner, thus completely changing the intended meaning of a text (an exotic story).
Is this not exactly what helps break open the case of Lord Edgware Dies to Poirot– the torn sheet of Carlotta Adams’ letter which removes the letter “s,” turning “she” to “he” and obscuring the original meaning of the victim’s writing? 🙂
I have insufficient knowledge of the tropes of classic detective fiction to know if this was actually a super-common device among writers at the time, but I’d think it unlikely, or the solution would be too glaringly obvious to the reader. Is this another cause for a hat-tip to Chesterton?