this is the 95th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books.
Nemesis by Agatha Christie © 1971, Pocket Books, 1973 paperback, mystery – Miss Marple
This is the last Marple novel Christie wrote, though Sleeping Murder was published after it.
Miss Marple receives a post card from the recently deceased Mr. Jason Rafiel, the millionaire she had met during A Caribbean Mystery. The card tells her to go to a solicitor’s office in London, where she is given a letter from Rafiel which asks her to look into an unspecified crime; if she succeeds in solving the crime, she will inherit £20,000. There are few clues as to how she is to proceed, not even when or where the crime was committed and who was involved.
Later she receives a letter telling her she is to go on a tour of famous houses and gardens of Great Britain, arranged and paid for. She is accompanied on the trip by fourteen other people, at least one of whom she suspects to be related to her enquiries. She learns that one of her companions, Elizabeth Temple, is the retired headmistress of the school which a girl who was engaged to Rafiel’s ne’er-do-well son, Michael, attended. Another member of the tour group, Miss Cooke, is a woman she had previously met and discussed gardening with.
Her next clue comes when a woman named Lavinia Glynne invites Marple to spend a few days with them at their home in a small town the tour will visit. Miss Marple accepts the invitation, assuming it to be the next part of Mr Rafiel’s instructions. She then meets Lavinia’s sisters, Clotilde and Anthea Bradbury-Scott and immediately feels there is something odd. A servant girl then tells her about a girl engaged to Michael Rafiel had been adopted by Clotilde after the death of her parents.
On the morning of her return to her party, Miss Marple is told Miss Temple had been knocked unconscious by a rockslide during their hike of the previous day and is in a coma at a local hospital. The group stays over an extra night to wait for news from the tour guide about Miss Temple’s health. It turns out that Professor Wanstead, a pathologist and psychologist interested in the different types of criminal brains, had been instructed by Rafiel to go on the tour. He had examined Michael Rafiel at the request of the head of the prison where Michael was incarcerated; he came to the same conclusion as his friend: Michael was not capable of murder. Professor Wanstead then takes Marple to see Miss Temple, who, in a moment of consciousness, had asked for Miss Marple. Miss Temple wakes only long enough to tell Marple “search for Verity Hunt”, and dies that night without reviving again.
And so it goes. Needless to say Marple ferrets out the villain and finally collects her ‘fee’.
This one isn’t as strong as the previous book, but the puzzle is always the thing with Christie and there is lots to puzzle over here. This was one of the rare times I figured out who did what beforehand, but it was fun anyway.
This brings to an end, for now, my Christie reading, but I’ll get back to it before long.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise