Cards on the Table
Goodreads ratings
3.93 / 5

"Cards on the Table" Summary

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: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Four people are murdered during a bridge game, and detective Hercule Poirot must uncover the killer's identity among the remaining players.


In "Cards on the Table," the renowned British crime fiction writer, Agatha Christie, takes readers on a thrilling journey through the world of murder and mystery. Published in 1936, this novel showcases Christie's masterful storytelling and her ability to keep readers guessing until the very end. With its intriguing plot, well-crafted characters, and unexpected twists, "Cards on the Table" is a must-read for fans of the detective genre.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in London, where the enigmatic and eccentric detective Hercule Poirot finds himself invited to an exclusive dinner party at the home of the enigmatic Mr. Shaitana. The guests at this peculiar gathering include four individuals who have gotten away with murder and four renowned detectives who have successfully solved these crimes.

During the evening, Mr. Shaitana makes a shocking revelation, claiming to possess knowledge of unsolved murders committed by the four guests. In an attempt to unmask the criminals, Mr. Shaitana proposes a unique game of bridge, with himself as the fifth player and the detectives as observers.

However, the evening takes a dark turn when Mr. Shaitana is found dead, stabbed with a small dagger. Poirot, along with the detectives present, must now unravel the mystery and identify the killer among the remaining guests. As the investigation progresses, secrets are unearthed, alibis are tested, and the truth becomes increasingly elusive.

Main Events

1Introduction of Hercule Poirot and the dinner party invitation
2Arrival of the guests and Mr. Shaitana's shocking revelation
3The game of bridge begins
4Mr. Shaitana is found dead
5Poirot takes charge of the investigation
6Interviews with the remaining guests
7Clues and red herrings emerge
8Poirot uncovers hidden motives and secrets
9The unveiling of the killer's identity
10Resolution and Poirot's final deductions

Main Characters

  • Hercule Poirot: The famous Belgian detective known for his sharp intellect and meticulous attention to detail.
  • Superintendent Battle: A Scotland Yard detective who is one of the four observers at the dinner party.
  • Colonel Race: Another observer and a seasoned intelligence officer.
  • Ariadne Oliver: A celebrated crime novelist and one of the observers.
  • Mrs. Lorrimer: A quiet and composed woman who works as a personal secretary.
  • Major Despard: A former secret service agent with a mysterious past.
  • Anne Meredith: A young, attractive woman with a troubled history.
  • Dr. Roberts: A reserved and intelligent doctor who keeps to himself.

Themes and Insights

Deception and Appearances

Throughout "Cards on the Table," Agatha Christie explores the theme of deception and the danger of making assumptions based on appearances. The characters in the novel often hide their true intentions and motives, leading to a complex web of lies and misdirection. Christie reminds readers that things are not always as they seem and that one should not judge a book by its cover.

The Psychology of Murder

The novel delves into the psychology of murder, showcasing the different motivations and thought processes behind such acts. Christie highlights the various ways in which individuals can be driven to commit murder, whether it be for personal gain, revenge, or self-preservation. Through her characters, she explores the dark depths of the human psyche and the lengths people will go to protect themselves.

The Complexity of Crime

"Cards on the Table" also emphasizes the complexity of crime and the challenges faced by detectives in solving cases. The novel demonstrates the importance of attention to detail, logic, and a deep understanding of human nature when unraveling mysteries. Christie showcases Hercule Poirot's brilliance in piecing together seemingly unrelated clues and his ability to see beyond the surface to uncover the truth.

Reader's Takeaway

"Cards on the Table" is a compelling and engrossing detective novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Agatha Christie's masterful storytelling, coupled with her clever plot twists and memorable characters, makes this book a true page-turner. As readers follow Poirot's investigation, they are challenged to think critically, consider multiple perspectives, and question their own assumptions. The ultimate reveal is both surprising and satisfying, leaving readers with a sense of awe at Christie's skillful storytelling.


"Cards on the Table" is a classic Agatha Christie mystery that showcases her unparalleled ability to craft intriguing plots and captivating characters. With its exploration of deception, the psychology of murder, and the complexities of crime, this novel is a must-read for fans of the detective genre. Agatha Christie's "Cards on the Table" is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate readers with its suspenseful narrative and brilliant detective work.

Cards on the Table FAQ

  1. Who is the author of 'Cards on the Table'?

    The author of 'Cards on the Table' is Agatha Christie.

  2. What is the genre of 'Cards on the Table'?

    'Cards on the Table' is a mystery novel.

  3. Where is the setting of 'Cards on the Table'?

    The story is set in London, England.

  4. What is the main plot of 'Cards on the Table'?

    The main plot of 'Cards on the Table' revolves around a murder that takes place during a bridge game.

  5. Who are the main characters in 'Cards on the Table'?

    The main characters in 'Cards on the Table' include four suspects, each with their own secrets, and the detective Hercule Poirot.

  6. Is 'Cards on the Table' part of a series?

    No, 'Cards on the Table' is a standalone novel.

  7. Is 'Cards on the Table' suitable for young readers?

    While 'Cards on the Table' is generally suitable for young adult readers, it may contain mature themes and content.

  8. Is 'Cards on the Table' a fast-paced thriller?

    No, 'Cards on the Table' is more of a slow-burn mystery with a focus on psychological suspense.

  9. Are there any adaptations of 'Cards on the Table'?

    Yes, 'Cards on the Table' has been adapted for television as part of the Agatha Christie's Poirot series.

  10. Can I read 'Cards on the Table' without reading other Agatha Christie books?

    Yes, 'Cards on the Table' can be enjoyed as a standalone novel without any prior knowledge of Agatha Christie's other works.