He is a major protagonist in The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), The Big Four (1927), Peril at End House (1932) and Lord Edgware Dies (1933), the deutergaonist in Death in the Clouds (1935), a major protagonist in The A.B.C. Murders (1936), and the deutergaonist in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940).
He has been portrayed by various actors including Melville Cooper, John Turnbull, Maurice Denham, David Suchet, Philip Jackson and Kevin McNally.
Inspector is the most recurring police character in the series and served as major protagonist, triangonist and sometimes even as deuteragonist in several stories. He is partially inspired by Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes, but with much more involvement to the story. Even so, comparing to his much later replacement, Superintendent Spence, Japp still shows shadows of stereotypical police character in a detective novel series. He most notably serves as the major protagonist in seven Poirot novels.
However, in the original stories, Japp no longer made any appearance after 1940, as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe became his final appearance. Unlike Captain Arthur Hastings, who made his last apperance in Curtain, Japp never appeared in a later installment of the series post-1930s. It is unknown what happened to him afterwards.
James Japp, while being a competent detective, is no match for Poirot; he frequently finds himself a step behind the great detective but has developed a grudging respect for the man's abilities over their years together. Japp and Hastings often commiserate on their confusion and inability to keep up with Poirot on cases. At times, Japp cannily plays upon Poirot's ego in order to nudge the detective into taking up cases, but in such ways as Poirot does not seem to realize that Japp is manoeuvring him.
Japp and Hastings are also generally astonished to find that Poirot cannot understand anything typically English (like cricket, which he maintains is utter nonsense).
Apperances in Stories
Japp has been depicted in several novels and short stories, all featuring Hercule Poirot:
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
- The Affair at the Victory Ball (March 1923)
- The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan (March 1923)
- The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim (March 1923)
- The Plymouth Express (April 1923)
- The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor (May 1923)
- The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman (September 1923)
- The Veiled Lady (October 1923)
- The Market Basing Mystery (October 1923)
- The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (November 1923) - mention only
- The Lost Mine (November 1923) - mention only
- The Big Four (1927)
- The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest (1932)
- Peril at End House (1932)
- Lord Edgware Dies (1933), also known as Thirteen at Dinner
- Death in the Clouds (1935), also known as Death in the Air
- The A.B.C. Murders (1936), also known as The Alphabet Murders
- The Girdle of Hyppolita (1940) - he is a Chief Inspector here.
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940), also known as An Overdose of Death and The Patriotic Murders. This is his last appearance in any work by Christie.
In other appearance
Agatha Christie's Poirot
In Agatha Christie's Poirot, like Miss Lemon, Japp has much more importance and role particularly in the first eight series, since he also appeared in several stories that he hardly ever appeared and became much more supportive. Here, his extra roles includes; as a major protagonist in Hickory Dickory Dock and several adaptations short stories like The Chocolate Box (replacing Hastings), and as the deuteragonist of Hercule Poirot's Christmas (replacing Colonel Johnson from the novel).
Ever since the 2001 adaptation of Evil Under the Sun, neither Hastings, Miss Lemon nor Japp had ever made an apperance for the next 12 years, and several police characters were written to replace him. Nevertheless, with the exception of Superintendent Spence (who was originated from the novel), most of the police replacement are not well-received.
After 12 years and four series of absence, Japp made his final apperance in the series within the 2013 adpatation of The Big Four. Here, Japp served as the deuteragonist instead of Hastings, who became a rather minor character that only appeared in Poirot's (false) funeral and the ending.
The ABC Murders (2018 miniseries)
In the 2018 BBC miniseries adaptation of The ABC Murders, the series starts with a retired Japp dying of a heart attack, and a recurring sub-plot is Inspector Crome, Japp's protege, expressing distrust of Poirot as he feels that working with Poirot ruined Japp's career.
- In the 1985 film Thirteen at the Dinner (based on Lord Edgware Dies), he was portrayed by David Suchet, who would later portray Hercule Poirot himself in Agatha Christie's Poirot and the 2006 video game adaptation of Murder on the Oriend Express.
- In both Agatha Christie's Poirot and the BBC 4 Radio adaptations, he was portrayed by Philip Jackson.
- Among all of the recurring characters, Japp appeared in seven novels, only losing to Hastings who appeared in eight novels.