this is the 94th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books.
A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie © 1964, Pocket Books, 1966 paperback, mystery featuring Miss Marple
After reading The Clocks for the single-author Friday Forgotten Books post last week, I decided to read yet another Christie, this time a Miss Marple. This is chronologically the next of the Christie novels. Since I had it on the shelf, I picked it.
“Would you like to see a picture of a murderer?”, Jane Marple is asked by Major Palgrave whilst on a holiday in the Caribbean, a gift from her nephew. Palgrave loves to tell stories, of his younger days, in Africa, India, hunting, as a soldier and whatnot. He keeps a fat wallet full of snapshots to illustrate many of his tales.
So when Marple listens, and carefully, to his stories, he waxes eloquent. When she replies that she would like to hear the story, he explains. There once was a man who had a wife who tried to hang herself, but failed. Then she tried again later, and succeeded in killing herself. The man remarried to a woman who then tried to gas herself to death. She failed, but then tried again later and succeeded. Just as Major Palgrave is about to show the picture to her, he looks over her shoulder, appears startled, and changes the subject. The next morning, a servant, Victoria Johnson, finds him dead in his room. Doctor Graham, who is staying at the hotel, concludes that the man died of heart failure; he showed all the symptoms, and had a bottle of serenite (a drug for high blood pressure) on his table.
Miss Marple is suspicious of the death, suspecting that Palgrave was murdered, but needs to see the photograph he was about to show her before seeing something over her shoulder that caused him to stop. She asks Doctor Graham to find it, saying it is a picture of her nephew. Meanwhile, she interviews, through her technique of carrying on casual conversation, other people, including Tim and Molly Kendall, the owners of the hotel, Mr. Rafiel, an invalid, and Esther Walters, Mr. Rafiel’s secretary, Lucky Dyson and her husband and Edward and Evelyn Hillingdon. On the beach when Mr Rafiel is going for a swim, Miss Marple sees Senora de Caspearo, a Spanish woman on holiday. She says that she remembers Major Palgrave because he had an evil eye. Miss Marple corrects her that he actually has a glass eye, but she still says that it was evil.
Thus goes the first part of the novel, and additional complications and murders follow. Naturally Marple figures out what is going on and gathers enough evidence to support her theory, at the very last second, to prevent yet another killing. Though this isn’t the best Marple mystery Christie wrote, I did enjoy it, and now plan to read what is a sort of follow-up novel, Nemesis.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise