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Agatha Christie - Man in the Brown Suit Paperback – 2001
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How odd, anne beddingfeld thought, that the stranger caught her eye, recoiled in horror, and fell to his death on the rails of hyde park underground station. Odder still was a doctor in a brown suit who pronounced him dead and vanished into the crowd. But what really aroused anne's suspicion was when she learned of the doctor's link to the murder of a famous ballerina, a fortune in hidden diamonds, and a crime-lord embroiled in blackmail. And most frightening of all was the attempt made on anne's own life. But she is unable to resist the lure of an isolated mansion that could hold the solution to the bizarre mystery--even if she becomes the next victim.
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the reader in the setting and atmosphere, and make you feel you are an observer on the scene -- and yet not be able to figure out
the mystery or culprit. When the denoument comes, one realizes all the clues are there, but we didn't put quite get it. Such a fun
read. Even if you've read all her works, many are worth a second look -- this is one! Try it and see.
If you have not read any of her books then I recommend starting with the oldest (first written) books and enjoy being back to a time that is long gone.
When the scrap of paper points to a liner preparing to voyage to South Africa, Anne impulsively books passage, determined to uncover the mystery of the man in the brown suit. There she befriends the charming Mrs. Blair and her handsome, enigmatic companion Colonel Race (who allegedly works for the Foreign Office), an eccentric clergyman, and the humorous Sir Eustace Pedler, owner of the unfortunate rental property, who seems to live in a constant state of befuddled harassment at the hands of his all-too-officious secretary Pagett. The deeper Anne investigates the man in the brown suit, a dangerous web of intrigue is revealed, involving stolen diamonds and a mysterious Colonel, a criminal mastermind whose influence soon threatens Anne's life and that of the man she's fallen in love with -- a man whose own secret past points to his identity as the very brown-suited murder suspect she's chased across continents. Anne is about to discover that real-life adventures are never so neatly wrapped up as the serials she's loved all her life, and if she's not careful this first excursion into sleuthing could be her last.
In browsing iTunes a few weeks ago I stumbled across an audiobook recording of The Man in the Brown Suit, a Christie novel I'd never heard of much less read. Having predominantly read several of her "series" novels -- i.e., those featuring Poirot and Marple, I'm nevertheless always interested in her standalone mysteries as they provide such interesting, oft-times experimental, departures from her norm. On that score, The Man in the Brown Suit delivers in spades. One of Christie's early efforts (only her fourth novel, first published in 1924), this novel showcases Christie's penchant for "bright young things" seeking adventure in exotic locales, besting traditional investigators with a combination of sheer nerve and intelligence. Anne is a winning character, very reminiscent of the serial film heroines to whom Christie seems to be paying homage here -- i.e., The Perils of Pauline and the like -- spunky, well-intentioned romantics.
Christie splits her narrative between Anne's reminiscences and Sir Eustace's journal entries, the latter of which are frankly some of the funniest narrative I've ever encountered in a Christie novel. People, he is HILARIOUS. The dual narrative works well here, particularly considering how fast and furiously Christie throws red herrings and misdirection at the reader along Anne's journey. I do think this novel lacked some of the finesse that would manifest itself in Christie's later work -- the plot was a bit too convoluted for even me as an avid aficionado of her mysteries -- but as an early example of her genius the humor and energy in this storyline is not to be missed. Featuring exotic locales, whip-lash fast plot twists, and a dash of romance (which develops out of thin air, basically, but WHO CARES because Anne is LIVING THE DREAM), The Man in the Brown Suit is an early Christie gem.
For Christie fans, it is important to know that this is not a Poirot or Marple book. Although Colonel Race does make his first appearance and plays a big role in this novel, it is more in line with a Tommy and Tuppence novel than a straight detective book. This is an early Christie novel with mystery and adventure. Anne, the plucky heroine, is bolder than many of Christie's subsequent heroines. She audaciously goes on her adventure with no thought of consequence. Harry, the hero, is a man with an imperfect past and a shadowy future. The rest of the characters are all in the Christie style of charm, idiosyncrasies and humor. If you're a Agatha Christie fan, you'll love this book.
For non-Christie fans, this is a fun read full of action, adventure, mystery and romance. It starts in England and proceeds to Africa. There are some dated ideas and descriptions in the novel, however that does not detract from the overall enjoyment. The views on race and gender roles are from the time when the novel was written, thus they are not in line with current reality. However, they do not permeate the story too much. This is a Christie book where the mystery almost takes a backseat to the adventure. It is simply a very enjoyable novel. Even if you're not a Christie fan, you'll love this book.