Cards on the Table
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"Cards on the Table" Characters Analysis

By Agatha Christie

mystery | 324 pages | Published in NaN

A flamboyant party host is murdered in full view of a roomful of bridge players… Mr Shaitana was famous as a flamboyant party host. Nevertheless, he was a man of whom everybody was a little afraid. So, when he boasted to Poirot that he considered murder an art form, the detective had some reservations about accepting a party invitation to view Shaitana’s private collection. Indeed, what began as an absorbing evening of bridge was to turn into a more dangerous game altogether…


Estimated read time: 7 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Mr. ShaitanaVictim
Hercule PoirotDetective
Superintendent BattleDetective
Colonel RaceDetective
Mrs. LorrimerSuspect
Mrs. OliverSuspect
Major DespardSuspect
Anne MeredithSuspect
Dr. RobertsSuspect
Mr. Shaitana's SecretaryWitness
Ariadne OliverWitness
Miss BurgessWitness
Miss MeredithWitness

Role Identification

In Agatha Christie's "Cards on the Table," a gripping murder mystery, several characters play significant roles. The story revolves around Mr. Shaitana, who becomes the victim of a murder, and the investigation led by the renowned detective, Hercule Poirot. Superintendent Battle and Colonel Race also join forces with Poirot to solve the case. The suspects include Mrs. Lorrimer, Mrs. Oliver, Major Despard, Anne Meredith, and Dr. Roberts. Additionally, there are witnesses, such as Mr. Shaitana's Secretary, Ariadne Oliver, Miss Burgess, and Miss Meredith.

Character Descriptions

Mr. Shaitana

Mr. Shaitana is the enigmatic victim of the murder. He is described as a wealthy and eccentric man who enjoys hosting gatherings at his house for the sole purpose of observing people. Shaitana has a mysterious aura, which often leaves others feeling uneasy.

Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot is the renowned Belgian detective who takes on the challenge of solving the murder. Poirot is known for his sharp intellect, meticulous attention to detail, and his iconic mustache. He is a methodical investigator, relying on his "little grey cells" to unravel complex mysteries.

Superintendent Battle

Superintendent Battle is a Scotland Yard detective who assists Poirot in the investigation. He is a no-nonsense and experienced investigator, known for his calm demeanor and ability to assess situations objectively.

Colonel Race

Colonel Race is another detective who collaborates with Poirot and Superintendent Battle. He is a resourceful and intelligent man, with a background in military intelligence. Race brings a unique perspective to the case and proves to be an invaluable asset to the investigation.

Mrs. Lorrimer

Mrs. Lorrimer is one of the suspects in the murder case. She is Mr. Shaitana's efficient secretary and is often described as reserved and composed. Lorrimer is known for her exceptional memory and attention to detail, making her a valuable witness.

Mrs. Oliver

Mrs. Oliver is a popular crime novelist and a witness in the case. She is known for her eccentric personality and unconventional thinking. Mrs. Oliver often provides comic relief with her humorous remarks and unconventional theories.

Major Despard

Major Despard is a retired military officer and one of the suspects. He is described as a strong and commanding presence. Despard's past and military background make him an intriguing character, with potential motives to be explored.

Anne Meredith

Anne Meredith is a young and vibrant suspect. She is portrayed as beautiful and alluring, with a reputation for being involved with multiple men. Anne's mysterious background and connections to other characters make her an intriguing part of the investigation.

Dr. Roberts

Dr. Roberts is a suspect who is highly skilled in the field of psychology. He is a calm and composed individual, known for his analytical thinking and deep understanding of human behavior. Dr. Roberts' knowledge of the human mind adds an intriguing layer to the investigation.

Mr. Shaitana's Secretary

Mr. Shaitana's Secretary is a witness in the case. Although not a prominent character, the secretary provides important information about the events leading up to the murder.

Ariadne Oliver

Ariadne Oliver, a witness, is a well-known crime novelist and a close friend of Poirot. She is known for her eccentric personality and her tendency to get fully immersed in her fictional characters. Ariadne's insights and observations often prove valuable to the investigation.

Miss Burgess

Miss Burgess is a witness and one of the attendees at Mr. Shaitana's gathering. She is a middle-aged spinster, described as timid and unassuming. Miss Burgess provides crucial information that helps Poirot piece together the puzzle.

Miss Meredith

Miss Meredith is another witness at the gathering. She is a young and innocent woman, known for her naivety and vulnerability. Miss Meredith's presence adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, as her actions and interactions with other characters become significant in the investigation.

Character Traits

  • Mr. Shaitana: Eccentric, mysterious, wealthy
  • Hercule Poirot: Intelligent, meticulous, methodical
  • Superintendent Battle: Objective, experienced, calm
  • Colonel Race: Resourceful, intelligent, military background
  • Mrs. Lorrimer: Efficient, reserved, attentive
  • Mrs. Oliver: Eccentric, humorous, unconventional
  • Major Despard: Strong, commanding, potential motives
  • Anne Meredith: Beautiful, alluring, mysterious
  • Dr. Roberts: Analytical, calm, knowledgeable
  • Mr. Shaitana's Secretary: Informative, minor role
  • Ariadne Oliver: Eccentric, insightful, close to Poirot
  • Miss Burgess: Timid, unassuming, provides crucial information
  • Miss Meredith: Naive, innocent, vulnerable

Character Background

The characters in "Cards on the Table" have diverse backgrounds, adding depth to the narrative. Mr. Shaitana's wealth and eccentricity make him a fascinating figure, while Poirot's reputation as a brilliant detective precedes him. Superintendent Battle and Colonel Race bring their expertise from Scotland Yard and military intelligence, respectively.

Mrs. Lorrimer's role as Mr. Shaitana's secretary suggests a close connection to the victim, and her efficient demeanor hints at hidden depths. Mrs. Oliver, a crime novelist, brings her imagination and unique perspective to the investigation.

Major Despard's military background and Anne Meredith's enigmatic past create intrigue surrounding their potential motives. Dr. Roberts' expertise in psychology adds a psychological dimension to the story.

The witnesses, including Mr. Shaitana's Secretary, Ariadne Oliver, Miss Burgess, and Miss Meredith, offer different viewpoints and insights into the events leading up to the murder.

Character Arcs

As "Cards on the Table" is a murder mystery, character arcs are primarily driven by the investigation and the unraveling of the truth. The detectives, Hercule Poirot, Superintendent Battle, and Colonel Race, experience personal growth as they navigate the complex web of clues, ultimately leading to the resolution of the case.

The suspects, Mrs. Lorrimer, Mrs. Oliver, Major Despard, Anne Meredith, and Dr. Roberts, undergo character development as their secrets and motives are gradually revealed. The unveiling of their true nature and involvement in the murder creates suspense and engages the reader.

The witnesses, including Mr. Shaitana's Secretary, Ariadne Oliver, Miss Burgess, and Miss Meredith, provide crucial information that helps shape the investigation. Their involvement in the case evolves as they cooperate with the detectives and share their observations.


The relationships in "Cards on the Table" are complex and contribute to the overall intrigue of the story. The connection between Mr. Shaitana and his secretary, Mrs. Lorrimer, suggests a deeper involvement that may shed light on the motive behind the murder.

The friendship between Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver serves as a source of support and collaboration. Their shared passion for solving mysteries strengthens their bond and enhances the overall investigation.

The interactions between the suspects, witnesses, and detectives reveal hidden agendas, alliances, and conflicts. These relationships create a tangled web of motives and provide ample opportunities for exploration and analysis.

In conclusion, Agatha Christie's "Cards on the Table" presents a diverse cast of characters, each with their own distinct role, traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships. The interplay between these characters adds depth and complexity to the murder mystery, making it an engaging and thrilling read for fans of the genre.