|“||They definitely only were missing, but only two people could have done it, and one of them might have done it as a joke.||„|
|~ Superintendent Sugden, referring to the missing diamonds|
Superintendent Harold Sugden is the main antagonist of Agatha Christie's 1938 novel Hercule Poirot's Christmas. He was a police superintendent who assisted Poirot in the invesigation over Simeon Lee's murder, but by the end of the story, he was revealed to be the murderer himself.
Sugden was revealed to be the illegiminate child of Simeon Lee and a local woman, whom he abandoned as a mere plaything. Sugden murdered Lee in order to avenge his mother for the humiliation and deception.
He was portrayed by Mark Tandy in Agatha Christie's Poirot.
Harold Sudgen was conceived when Simeon Lee had a sexual affair to a local girl whom he seduced, before the next day, he deserted her. After growing up, Sugden decided to seek revenge against Simeon for abandoning his mother.
Many years later, Simeon Lee, now a multi-millionaire frail in his old age, unexpectedly invites his family to gather at his home for Christmas. The gesture is met with suspicion by the guests. Simeon is not given to warm family sentiment, and the family are not on good terms.
Simeon is intent on playing a cruel game with his family's emotions. He calls his family together that afternoon, to hear him on the telephone with his attorney, saying he wants to update his will after Christmas. This incomplete information stirs up negative feelings among his sons and their wives.
In the meantime, Sudgen secretly sneaks into the house and later murdered Simeon by slicing his throat, and faked the crime scene as well as scream with a special toy balloon and ropes to smash furnitures, whilst he escapes through the window after locking up the door and stealing diamonds to frame Simeon's children, eventually avenging his mother. When the guests and family members heard the noise, they get to his door and find it locked. They break through the door and find the room in grisly chaos, with heavy furniture overturned, crockery smashed, and Simeon dead, his throat slit, in a massive pool of blood.
After killing Simeon, Sugden hid the precious diamond in Simeon's collection into a vase to stir doubt within Simeon's children, before going on with the investigation. During the investigation, Pilar Estravados, claimed to be the estrange granddaughter of Simeon, had proclaimed that Sudgen had some physical resemblence towards Simeon, which alerted Sudgen and he planned to frame Pilar. This eventually cemented when "Pilar" was revealed to be an imposter named Conchita Lopez, who impersonated Pilar after discovering the latter's accidental death.
Nevertheless, Poirot managed to deduced the true identity of Sudgen when he discovered his similarity to a younger Simeon Lee's portrait, especially when a moustache was put on. He revealed in his denouement that Sugden was the killer. After being revealed, Sugden did not resist and calmly accepted his arrest.
- Superintendent Sugden can be considered as one of the most sympathetic culprits in Agatha Christie's novels, since his murder motive is out of sympathetic and righteous reasons. It makes him different from Lady Westholme (at least in the novel) who killed an evil victim only for purely selfish reason. He is also one of the few culprits who ended up redeemed by giving himself in and stopped committing crimes, since his goal of vengeance is served.
- Within all of the guilty parties from Agatha Christie's full-length novels, Superintendent Sugden is the only novel culprit who is a police officer.
- One of the only factors that make Sugden villainous is actually his constant attempt to pin everything on Pilar Estravados, particularly when he discovered her true idenitity as a fraud, plus his murder attempt against her. The other factor is that he caused paranoia within Lee's innocent family, which would ended up killing each other had Poirot never dig out the truth.