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In England's stately manor houses, murder is not generally a topic for polite conversation. Mallowan Hall, home to Agatha Christie and her husband, Max, is the exception. And housekeeper Phyllida Bright delights in discussing gory plot details with her friend and employer . . . The neighboring village of Listleigh has also become a hub of grisly goings-on, thanks to a Murder Fête organized to benefit a local orphanage. Members of The Detection Club-a group of celebrated authors such as G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha herself-will congregate for charitable events, including a writing contest for aspiring authors. The winner gets an international publishing contract, and entrants have gathered for a cocktail party-managed by the inimitable Phyllida-when murder strikes too close even for her comfort. It seems the victim imbibed a poisoned cocktail intended for Alastair Whittlesby, president of the local writers' club. The insufferable Whittlesby is thought to be a shoo-in for the prize, and ambition is certainly a worthy motive. But narrowing down these suspects could leave even Phyllida's favorite fictional detective, M. Poirot, twirling his mustache in frustration.