An earlier Miss Marple mystery that I pretty much completely forgot. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but there’s also little to make it stand out in the series with so many memorable entries. It could unkindly be called Christie-by-numbers.
An enjoyable posthumous short story collection featuring the deductive powers of Christie’s lovable sleuth, plus two additional supernatural stories.
This Miss Marple novel has many Christie tropes that I usually find very entertaining, among them a bickering family where everyone has a motive to bump off the detestable patriarch in charge, and murders that follow a nursery rhyme. On the whole though, the book just wasn’t as satisfying as some of its parts.
Miss Marple goes on a holiday in the sunny Caribbean and finds herself mildly discontented that nothing ever happens in the tropical paradise… until she suspects a murder.
This mystery, technically one of Christie’s Miss Marple novels, barely scrapes into the Marple series, since the much-loved elderly sleuth only makes an appearance three-quarters into the book and remains little more than a cameo. I’d go as far as say that the novel didn’t really need her and is strong enough to stand on its own.
I made a mistake in my review of The Murder at the Vicarage: while it was Miss Marple’s full-length novel debut, it wasn’t her first appearance, rather it was in a 1927 short story called The Tuesday Night Club. Later, it became the first chapter in this entertaining collection of thirteen short stories, which together form a sort of episodic novel. Midway through the book, I realised that I have actually read it before, but the details of each story completely evaporated from my memory so it was like reading them anew.
This novel marks the debut of Miss Marple, Christie’s other beloved fictional detective, a gentle and harmless-looking old lady with a keen interest in human nature and a remarkably clear view of its dark side. I couldn’t say if it’s the best Miss Marple whodunit, but it ranks as my personal favourite for being so enjoyable to re-visit. I lost count of how many times I picked up my old tattered copy of The Murder at the Vicarage (now replaced with a more respectable one) for a quick and easy in-between comfort re-read.
An earlier Miss Marple murder mystery, this clever and engaging novel is, in Christie’s own words, a variation on an old classic scenario in detective fiction.
It wastes no time and gets down to business right at the beginning of Chapter 1, where Colonel and Mrs Bantry, a wealthy and respectable couple, wake up one morning to the shocking news. A dead body of a young blonde girl in a white evening dress has been found in their most conservative and conventional library, an incongruous sight that upsets and puzzles the couple. The mysterious girl seems to have been strangled and neither Bantrys nor their servants have any idea who she is and how she ended up in the library.
4.50 From Paddington probably sits squarely in the middle of Christie’s Miss Marple series – not a classic, but hardly one of the worst either. It certainly has a cracking premise at least. An elderly lady named Mrs McGillicuddy travels by train and shockingly comes face to face with a murder when she witnesses a woman being strangled in a train that briefly travels alongside hers. She promptly reports the crime, but no body is ever found and the officials dismiss her story as old lady ravings. The only person who believes Mrs McGillicuddy is her good friend Jane Marple, who knows that her friend lacks the imagination to make up a wild tale.