Page 104. " the judge's seat in wig and gown "

This is a reference to the traditional attire for a British judge, whose wig is made of horsehair.

According to the Sunday Times (13 July 2007), "Judges are to end centuries of tradition and abandon the wearing of wigs and gowns in hundreds of civil and family cases. The decision to abolish the 300-year-old horsehair headgear, along with wing collars and bands, was announced yesterday by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. However, in a compromise ending one of the most hotly disputed legal debates of recent years, judges sitting in criminal courts will continue to wear their wigs."

Attire for various judges around the world can be seen here.

The video below, which shows traditional British courtroom garb, is from another work by Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution.


Page 107. " The N____r in the Woodpile! "

This is a saying similar to "the fly in the ointment" (see second Bookmark for page 35).

How this example of "the n word" managed to stay in the novel when all other instances have been expunged is beyond me.

Page 108. " Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? "

"Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" became a hit song after the Walt Disney Silly Symphony "The Three Little Pigs" was released in 1933.


Page 115. " And in imagination she saw the judge's old hands put the black cap on his head and begin to pronounce sentence. "
Hangman's noose
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHangman's noose - Credit: Chris 73

In English courts of law, the judge's black cap was a nine-inch square of black silk that the judge would place on his head prior to pronouncing the death sentence on a convicted prisoner. After doing so he would say, "The sentence of this court is that you be taken to a place of execution and that there you be hanged by the neck until you are dead. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul."

A history of judicial hanging in Britain may be found here. The death penalty was effectively ended in Britain in 1965, and formally abolished in 1999.

Page 120. " Funny sort of cove altogether. "

"Cove" is a Cockney term for "man."