The Witness for the Prosecution (Short Story): Agatha Christie

Keishon —  November 27, 2013

Book covr for Wittness For the Prosecution shows the scales of justiceThe Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie is a short story that’s also been adapted as a play, a movie and a made for TV movie. The short was first published in the U.S. as Traitor Hands in a weekly magazine in 1925. In 1933 the short was published with other short stories in The Hound of Death.

Amazon has this short-story available as The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories or you can buy it singly for 99 cents. The length is about 35 pages and the narrative is told in first person. The opening starts with “Mr. Mayherne adjusted his pince-nez and cleared his throat with a little dry as dust cough that was wholly typical of him.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but a lot of Agatha Christie’s short stories are being made available and in digital format by Harper Collins. I bought this one since the plot was intriguing to me which I will share here:

When wealthy spinster Emily French is found murdered, suspicion falls on Leonard Vole, the man to whom she hastily bequeathed her riches before she died. Leonard assures the investigators that his wife, Romaine Heilger, can provide them with an alibi. However, when questioned, Romaine informs the police that Vole returned home late that night covered in blood. During the trial, Ms. French’s housekeeper, Janet, gives damning evidence against Vole, and, as Romaine’s cross-examination begins, her motives come under scrutiny from the courtroom. One question remains, will justice prevail?

This short story was really good! It all boils down to who do you believe? The wife, the housekeeper or the accused himself? They all had different stories. The theme for this short is about perception, truth and justice. The ending will make you go what? Makes you think just a tiny bit about how the justice system works. The relevance of this story is applicable today.

Overall, good read to pass a bit of time or break a reading slump.



Romance reader now mystery reader. I enjoy all types of fiction but for the past 5 years I've enjoyed reading crime fiction. Please email with recommendations! I love to hear from readers.

12 responses to The Witness for the Prosecution (Short Story): Agatha Christie


    Keishon – It is a nice, tight little story isn’t it? I do like the sense of ambiguity about it too. As you say, it all depends on your perception of who’s telling the truth, and that’s part of what keeps the reader really interested and engaged.



      Sorry for the late reply, yes, this was a tightly written story. I plan to read more of her short stories in future. Thanks Margot. Hope you and your family had a nice Thanksgiving.



    On of the In Death books uses a theatrical production of this short story as the basis of a new murder mystery. I remember liking it a lot, and then finding a copy if the Christie story for comparison.



    I don’t read short stories very much but I do have a book of Christie short stories in the Tommy and Tuppence series that I plan to read. So maybe I will go for this one too.



      I’m the same, not a big short story reader but after reading some of Hammett’s short stories, I kind of feel differently now and am open to the format.



    Keishon, I’d be tempted by the length as it sounds really interesting, but to be honest, I ought to give it a miss….I’m trying to get more books out than I add back in and even though I seem to be reading faster than ever, I’m not making a lot of headway>



    Keishon, thanks for turning my attention back to Agatha Christie: I haven’t read her novels since the early part of this year. I have this short story in THE HOUND OF DEATH, I think.



    I can easily spend an afternoon reading Christie’s short stories. It’s what I often do when I’m feeling under the weather.