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Posts Tagged ‘Agatha Christie’

A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple) (Miss Marple Series Book 10)

Jane Marple is on holiday in the Caribbean paid for by her nephew Raymond West. She loves the weather and it is working wonders with her rheumatism but she is just a little bored. Nothing much happens in paradise but her curiosity is piqued when Major Palgrave, who is telling her a story about a murderer, suddenly puts the photograph away that he was going to show her and looks as though he’s seen a ghost. The next day he is dead and Miss Marple is in her element as she recognises the types of people among her fellow guests who remind her of people in her home village of St Mary Mead.

I particularly liked some of the characters in this well written mystery especially the irascible Mr Rafiel and his attendants as well the Hillingdons and Dysons who seem to be friends who do not always get on well together. There are plenty of clues and plenty of red herrings before the murderer is finally revealed by means of some clever deductions by Miss Marple and Mr Rafiel.

This is not St Mary Mead but it is entertaining reading with an interesting background and Miss Marple proves herself to be as resourceful as ever even if her age is catching up with her.

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The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side (Miss Marple) (Miss Marple Series Book 9)

Gossington Hall – where the body was discovered in the library in a previous Miss Marple story – is now the home of film star Marina Gregg.  When she opens the newly refurbished house for a local fete the villagers are curious to see how the house looks now.

One of the locals is poisoned at the reception Marina Gregg holds for the local pillars of the community and it seems clear to many that the film star herself could have been the intended target.  Miss Marple has to rely on the excellent testimony of her friend Mrs Bantry as she was not present at the time.

The death results in Scotland Yard being called in to investigate and Miss Marple is one of the first people that Desmond Craddock consults.  In this story we see Miss Marple in another guise.  She is getting older and her nephew has paid for the annoying Miss Knight to keep her company.  But Miss Marple does not react very well to having her freedom curtailed however well meaning the intention.  It seems at one point that the next murder might be committed by Miss Marple herself.

This is a well constructed plot and the clues are there for the observant reader.  I felt there were many tragic elements to the story and the motivations are well drawn as are the characters.  If you want crime novels in the classic mould then there is no one better than Agatha Christie in my opinion.

 

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Elspeth McGillicuddy is on her way by train to visit her old friend Miss Marple. The train she is on runs side by side for a moment with another train and Elspeth sees a man with his back to her strangling a woman in a fur coat. She reports it to the ticket collector and to the police who seem not to be too interested though they do check it out and cannot find a body. Both Elspeth and Miss Marple are convinced she did see the murder and Miss Marple decides to do some investigating herself and try and work out where the body could have been pushed out of the train.

When a body is discovered her old friend Dermot Craddock – now at Scotland Yard – is called in to investigate and finds Miss Marple an invaluable source of information. This book will keep most readers guessing until very close to the end. It is a well crafted story with plenty of interesting characters and plenty of suspects. I liked Lucy – the specialist in domestic crises – who does some sleuthing for Miss Marple. The Crackenthorpe family are marvellous too especially the tyrant Luther Crackenthorpe who tries to rule his children with a rod of iron.

If you want to read crime novels with well crafted plots and believable characters with convincing motivations then you cannot beat Agatha Christie.

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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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