Monday, June 11, 2012

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Cover of The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
I read one more Miss Marple mystery, The Moving Finger this weekend. Agatha Christie wrote this one in early 1940s with publication in 1942. This is one of my favorite of the Marple books. The story is narrated by Jerry Burton. He and his sister Joanna go to stay in Lymstock while he recovers from a bad play crash. Jerry and Joanna rent Miss Emily Barton’s house, and they prepare to settle in to boring village life. Of course, we all know that it won’t be boring for long. Anonymous letters are making the rounds in Lymstock, and Jerry and Joanna aren’t excluded from those who receive them. Of course, everyone knows that something bad will come from it all, and it does when Mrs. Symmington winds up dead, supposedly at her own hand. Of course, Jerry takes Mrs. Symmington’s elder daughter Megan under his wing. Her step-father doesn’t have time for her. Within a week, Scotland Yard is hard at work in the village when Agnes, the Symmington’s maid turned up murdered, after telling the Burtons’ housekeeper, Partridge, that she, Agnes, was confused over something. The police are baffled until Elsie Holland, the stunningly beautiful but personality-less governess, receives her first anonymous letter. Eventually, the murder is captured, and true love blooms for Jerry and Joanna.

The interesting thing about this book is that Miss Marple only appears in the last quarter of the book. Although Jerry’s subconscious figures out the mystery, it takes Miss Marple, with the help of Megan to solve the crime. Miss Marple explains it all. Christie populated the book with some interesting characters. Megan is one of my favorites. She lives in her own world, and doesn’t give in to the conventions of others who want her to take up some sort of work. As Megan says, she really doesn’t like people, and she doesn’t go out of her way to befriend them. Mrs. Dane Calthrop is the minister’s wife, and it’s through her intervention that Miss Marple gets involved in the case. Mrs. Dane Calthrop is horribly offended at the evil of the murderer of Agnes and says that she will get an expert in murder and crime on the case. The 1940s were supposed to be the apex of Christie’s books, and The Moving Finger is a good representation of Christie’s best.

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