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4:50 from Paddington: A Miss Marple Mystery Mass Market Paperback – 2011
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For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder.
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Although I like Hercule, I must admit that I prefer Christie books and stories that feature that gentle-but-shrewd old lady Miss Jane Marple. I think that they are more autobiographical since Christie was an old style English gentlewoman herself and since she spent a great deal of time as a child with her beloved "Grannie-Auntie." Her observations of this grandparent and her many old lady friends gave the author a deep insight into the wide knowledge of human nature that even an apparently sheltered woman acquires over a long life of dealing with family, friends, servants, and "tradesmen." Those who have the luxury of TIME may see things overlooked by those who are busy with careers and young families.
In this book, the plot is driven by the fact that Miss Marple KNOWS that her friend Elspeth McGillicuddy is a woman with honesty, common sense, and NO imagination. Thus while everyone else dismisses Mrs. McGillicuddy's story of having witnessed a murder, Miss Marple simply starts figuring out how and where the body was disposed of and then goes looking for it. But by this time (mid-1950's) Jane Marple is a very old lady indeed and needs help in the physical task of snooping around.
Enter the fascinating character of Lucy Eyelesbarrow, a brilliant young University graduate who deserts her academic field (mathematics) to take up the less prestigious, but more varied and more lucrative field of domestic engineering. For a very large sum, she will move into your house and do anything that needs to be done. She cooks, cleans, cares for children and elderly, and generally takes the burden of day-to-day living completely off your shoulders. There is no woman in the world who wouldn't LOVE to have a Lucy Eyelesbarrow around. However, she only takes temporary assignments and she doesn't come cheap. All Miss Marple has to do is arrange for Lucy to be employed at the estate where she suspects the missing body is hidden and the ultra-efficient domestic diva takes it from there.
I'm sure that Dame Agatha enjoyed creating Lucy. She liked studying mathematics herself and once said that she thought she would have been a good math teacher if she hadn't gotten married and become a writer. I also think that the two delightful teen-aged boys who play a pivotal role in the mystery were probably modeled after her beloved grandson Mathew and his friends.
It's a fine, well-plotted story with lots of off-beat characters and it kept me guessing until the end. If you want to commit murder, make damned certain Miss Marple doesn't get wind of it!
Old Mr Cracenthorpe a sour man who hates his sons and doesn t want them to reap the material benefits which would accrue to them in his will.
Harold-The son who is a prosperous businessman in London
Alfred-The black sheep of the family who has been involved in petty crime.
Cedrick-An artist who lives abroad but has come home to visit.
Miss Marple puts her amateur sleuthing niece Lucy Eyelesbarrow to work doing domestic chores for the family. Lucy discovers the corpse of the murdered woman in an old barn on the estate.
Dr. Quimper is the local physician who hankers for Emma ';s hand. She is the only sister of the three living Crackenthorpe sons.
Bryan Eastley is the widower of the other Crackenthorpe daughter who has died. His young son is Alexander.
The plot is clear and Christie keeps the number of characters small enough to stay clear in the mind of the reader. This novel features a great
ending as Miss Marple solves the crime. A good read for a stormy night or to peruse during a vacation. Christie wrote the novel in 1957.
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A few better AC books:
Murder On The Orient Express
The ABC Murders
And Then There Were None
It was interesting to see how many of the characters could have done the crime but one by...Read more