The Case of the Missing Will is a short story by Agatha Christie first published in the Poirot Investigates anthology.
If you are looking for a fun, mystery read without any murder or violence this book hits the nail on the head.
Violet Marsh was orphaned at a young age and was raised by her uncle Andrew Marsh, while the two loved each other they were often at odds over Violet’s modern sensibilities when it came to her education. Against her uncle’s express wishes she chooses to further her education to become a businesswoman instead of only learning to be a homemaker, effectively disinheriting herself.
Wealthy Andrew Marsh has now passed away and unexpectedly left her the benefactor of his will… if she manages to meet certain criteria.
To inherit her uncle’s fortune will have at her disposal his house and its contender for a year in which she must prove her wits to find a second will. If she can’t solve the puzzle the estate will be given to a charity.
Violet knows her limits and hires the famous Hercule Poirot to help her find the will.
While this is a departure from the usual murder mysteries the Poirot is at the centre of, it is still a great showcase of flamboyant style and skills.
Excerpt from The Case of the Missing Will by Agatha Christie
“My uncle left a most extraordinary will. By its terms, Crabtree Manor and its contents are to be at my disposal for a year from his death—‘ during which time my clever niece may prove her wits.’ the actual words run. At the end of that period, ‘my wits having proved better than hers,’ the house and all my uncle’s large fortune pass to various charitable institutions.”
“That is a little hard on you, mademoiselle, seeing that you were Mr Marsh’s only blood relation.”
“I do not look on it in that way. Uncle Andrew warned me fairly, and I chose my own path. Since I would not fall in with his wishes, he was at perfect liberty to leave his money to whom he pleased.”
“Was the will drawn up by a lawyer?”
“No; it was written on a printed will-farm and witnessed by the man and his wife who live in the house and do for my uncle.”
“There might be a possibility of upsetting such a will?”
“I would not even attempt to do such a thing.”
“You regard it, then, as a sporting challenge on the part of your uncle?”
“That is exactly how I look upon it.”
“It bears that interpretation, certainly.” said Poirot thoughtfully. “Somewhere in this rambling old manor-house your uncle has concealed either a sum of money in notes or possibly a second will, and has given you a year in which to exercise your ingenuity to find it.”
“Exactly, Monsieur Poirot; and I am paying you the compliment of assuming that your ingenuity will be greater than mine.”