This is a Hercule Poirot mystery and was written in 1936.
I chose to read this as a result of watching the two part TV show starring one of my favourite actors, John Malkovich, as Poirot. Rupert Grint plays Inspector Crome (very well imho), for Harry Potter fans. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I had also seen it filmed for TV starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective. They were so very different that I just had to read the book to find out which one was the closest to Agatha Christie's work.
From the Agatha Christie website : There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet - and the whole country is in a state of panic. A is for Mrs Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident – but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal mistake.
It has a nice twist in the tail and was a very enjoyable read. Recommended.
For the record, the David Suchet version is the closest to the book.
Sittaford House is in a small village of only a few houses in a remote location on the edge of Dartmoor. Cut off by snow, Mrs Willetts and her daughter who rent the house, invite their neighbours to tea. They decide it might be fun to hold a séance. It all beings with good humour, but quickly turns more sinister when a spirit seems to tell them that Captain Trevelyan who lives in a local town has been murdered. His friend, Major Burnaby who was at the tea decides to set out to make sure his friend is OK, even though it is a six mile walk through a serious snow storm. On arriving at his friends house, he discovers the Captain has been murdered, and it happened at the exact time that the séance occurred.
The police arrest a rather stupid young man called James Pearson, the Captain’s nephew, who stands to gain from the will. James is engaged to Emily Trefusis who refuses to believe that James is guilty and with the the help of a local journalist starts to investigate herself.
I rather enjoyed the set up of the mystery, I like the idea of an “impossible” crime. In this case, how on earth did a séance manage to predict the Captain’s death? Sometimes a “how-dunnit” is more satisfying than a “who-dunnit”. It did rather loose pace towards the end, and some key clues were left right until the very last pages, so it would have been hard to solve this based on the previous chapters. Having said that, when the solution was revealed it was blindingly obvious, if only I had stopped to think about it.
In this book Christie focuses a little more on her characters, and we start to see some more emphasis placed on how people really do react to different circumstances, rather than her characters simply being tools to execute the plot. The motive of the murderer in particular shows she has started to develop her thoughts in this area.
After a few dodgy ones, it looks like Christie is back on form!
This is the first of the Miss Marple novels and is set in her home village of St Mary Mead. Colonel Protheroe is an arrogant and generally unpleasant man, but the residents of the village are shocked when he is found shot dead in the vicar's study.
There is a nice array of suspects including the Colonel's wife and daughter, a local artist, and a rather suspicious archaeologist and his secretary. We see everything unfold from the vicar's point of view, and being a man of the cloth, an awful lot of people want to confide in him, giving him access to more information that perhaps he really wants to know.
Miss Marple is, at first portrayed as a rather gossipy old lady, but the vicar warms to her over the course of the book and at the end she is seen to be a very clever woman and an excellent judge of character.
This is classic Christie territory, she captures life in an English village, with all its secrets and gossip, perfectly. The plot in The Murder at the Vicarage uses a couple of classic Christie’s red herrings which she will use repeatedly through her writing in one form or another. We fall for them every time though!
This collection of short stories features Mr Satterthwaite, an elderly gentlemen with a comfortable life. He is a great people watcher, and one New Year's Eve at a house party he meets Mr Harley Quin. The stranger helps Mr Satterthwaite solve various mysteries, simply by helping him see things in a different way. Mr Quin, by his own admission comes and goes, and in each story he becomes more and more paranormal, seemingly appearing from nowhere.
The mysteries themselves are straightforward, and all the clues are there for the reader to solve. What is more of a riddle is the relationship between the two men. Is Mr Quin really some sort of supernatural being, or is he an extension of Mr Satterthwiate's own mind as it works through the problems? This is never really resolved, and I rather liked the fact that it was up to the reader to decide.
Partners In Crime is a collection of short stories featuring Tommy and Tuppence. The stories cover jewel theft, counterfeiting gangs and international spies. It makes me sad to say this, but it is, quite frankly a dreadful book. The stories are simplistic, with wooden characters, made worse by the fact that they are very dated. Not one of the stories has a twist. There are no clever clues or skeletons in closets to uncover, it's a very poor effort all round.
I'm glad I read it, it's a part of my Christie journey, but honestly, this one is a turkey.