Posts Tagged ‘Agatha Christie’

Sleeping Murder (Miss Marple) (Miss Marple Series Book 13)

Gwenda and Giles Reed have bought a house in a small village on the South coast of England.  Gwenda keeps seeing a body lying in the hall with the murderer standing over it and quoting from Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.  Is there a ghost or is she experiencing flashbacks?

Could she have lived in the house as a child?  Gwenda meets Miss Marple through the novelist Raymond West and she advices Gwenda to leave well alone and not try and find out what happened.  But Gwenda and Giles are curious and decide to see what they can find out.

Naturally Miss Marple cannot resist an opportunity to solve a mystery and she persuades her doctor to recommend a few weeks by the sea.  What follows is an intriguing mystery in which no one’s reputation is safe and family secrets and lies are uncovered.  It is well written and the plot is excellently done with plenty of suspects and clues for the discerning reader to sift through.

There are few authors who can match Agatha Christie with her complex and believable plots and characters and this story stands the test of time extremely well.  An enjoyable and entertaining read for those who like their mysteries in the classic mould.

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The Moving Finger (Miss Marple) (Miss Marple Series Book 4)

Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna lease a house in the country to enable him to recover from serious injuries.  He has been ordered to lead a quiet life with no upsets.  At first life in the village seems idyllic – the locals are friendly and call on the newcomers welcoming them into their circle.  Then Jerry receives an anonymous letter which suggests that his sister is not really his sister at all but enjoys a closer relationship to him.  It is only when he hears that others have had anonymous letters that he starts to wonder what is going on.

When the wife of a local solicitor receives a letter and is found dead things become serious and the police take a hand.  This is a complex mystery and will keep most readers guessing until very close to the end of the story.  I loved the characters – especially Jerry, who narrates the story, and his sister; Megan – daughter of the dead woman; the local doctor Owen Griffiths and his sharp tongued and efficient sister.  The book is well written and carefully plotted.  My only criticism is that Miss Marple doesn’t appear until about the last third of the book when she comes to stay with the vicar and his wife.

I think this must be the quintessential poison pen mystery and few authors have tackled the subject with success – Dorothy L Sayers in Gaudy Night being one of the exceptions.  Patricia Wentworth’s Poison Pen to my mind falls flat when compared with The Moving Finger though it is still an interesting story.

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The Secret of Chimneys

Anthony Cade agrees to undertake a commission for an old friend but he soon finds himself involved in something much more complex and more serious than he expected.  A variety of people try to get hold of the manuscript which he is delivering to a London publisher in a variety of ways.

But all the plotting and planning leads the various protagonists to a complex denouement at a country house called Chimneys where Superintendent Battle and a man from the French police as well as various other people are set on finding out the truth.

I found this  quite a confusing  narrative and I suspect I’m going to need to read it, or listen to it, again to fully understand the various ramifications of the plot.  I do like Superintendent Battle as well as Lady Eileen – also known as Bundle – who appears in later books featuring Battle.

It is an enjoyable tale of Ruritanian politics which is having an effect on the international stage and I think you have to read it in the context of the times in which it was written.

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Death In the Clouds

Hercule Poirot finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation when a murder takes place almost under his nose on a flight from Paris to Croydon.  Unfortunately because he suffers from travel sickness he was asleep for most of the flight.  In the confined space of a commercial airliner in the 1930s, the number of suspects is limited but the police of both France and England fins themselves puzzled for quite a long time.

I enjoyed this mystery and thought it was interesting that the author investigated the effects of suspicion on the various suspects – including Poirot himself.  Some of the suspects found their lives changed for the better – even if only temporarily – while others found it brought existing problems to a head.  I got the murderer completely wrong so it was almost a physical shock when the murderer was revealed.

I do like Hercule Poirot as a character though I didn’t particularly like him when I first started reading Agatha Christie and I preferred Miss Marple. Now I like him as much as Miss Marple.  They share an encyclopaedic knowledge of human nature and excellent powers of information.  Both are good at fading into the background. Christie was just brilliant at plots as well as characters which is why these novels have remained in print for so long.


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Murder on the links

Hercule Poirot receives a cry for help from a millionaire in France. Unfortunately Poirot and Captain Hastings arrive too late to save him as he has just been found dead when they get there. He had been stabbed in the back.

Poirot soon finds himself on a collision course with a French detective who regards Poirot as the lowest of the low. Hastings has his mind less on the investigation that normal as he has fallen in love.

I had some difficulty following the twists and turns of the plot of this story – possibly because I was listening to it rather than reading it. I did enjoy the rivalry between the detectives and I did like the settings – an embryo golf course in France. The solution to the mystery was intriguing in the end and I certainly didn’t work out what was going on.

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The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot) (Hercule Poirot Series Book 33)

The audio book version of this collection of short stories doesn’t include the final story – Greenshaw’s Folly.  I really enjoyed this quirky collection with ingenious plots, and plenty of humour as well with Hercule Poirot at his most whimsical best.

The title story sees Poirot at a house party over Christmas and receiving an ill spelled and written warning not to eat the plum pudding.  Why has someone warned him?  I loved the ending to this story.

My other favourite in this collection was The Dream in which a very clever murder almost succeeds in being passed off as a suicide.  These stories show Agatha Christie at the height of her powers with memorable characters ad carefully crafted plots.  Poirot succeeds because of his powers of observation and his knowledge of human nature.  This collection would be a good introduction to Agatha Christie if you have not tried her books before.

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The Mystery of the Blue Train

Wealthy Ruth Kettering is travelling to Nice on the luxurious Blue Train but when the train arrives in Nice Ruth is dead. The police favour her estranged husband Derek as prime suspect but Hercule Poirot is not convinced by the obvious suspect. This is a well plotted mystery in which jewel theft, the activities of the hugely rich and the disadvantages of marriages of convenience all feature.

I enjoyed this sometimes sinister story of greed and murder in which Poirot uses his usual talent for understanding human nature and his incredible ability to notice the smallest detail to good advantage to ensure that the right person is finally unmasked as the murderer.

I liked the background to this story and I also liked the fact that one of the characters has actually come from St Mary Mead – Miss Marple’s home village.  I love the way there are cross references between series and how characters flit in and out of each others’ series.

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