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4:50 from Paddington: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries Book 8) Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, March 30, 2004|| |
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In Agatha Christie’s classic mystery 4:50 From Paddington, a woman in one train witnesses a murder occurring in another passing one…and only Miss Marple believes her story.
For an instant the two trains ran side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth McGillicuddy stared helplessly out of her carriage window as a man tightened his grip around a woman's throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away. But who, apart from Mrs. McGillicuddy's friend Jane Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there are no other witnesses, no suspects, and no case -- for there is no corpse, and no one is missing.
Miss Marple asks her highly efficient and intelligent young friend Lucy Eyelesbarrow to infiltrate the Crackenthorpe family, who seem to be at the heart of the mystery, and help unmask a murderer.
From the Inside Flap
For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman's throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away.
But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses . . . and no corpse.--The Times (London) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From the Back Cover
For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman’s throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away.
But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses . . . and no corpse.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B000FC1PLQ
- Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 30, 2004)
- Publication date : March 30, 2004
- Language : English
- File size : 2943 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 224 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0008256063
- Best Sellers Rank: #112,974 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #270 in Mystery Anthologies (Kindle Store)
- #517 in Read & Listen for Less
- #1,077 in Traditional Detective Mysteries (Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2020
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Elspeth McGillcuddy is riding on a train and is admiring the view out her window when another train passes she sees a man choking a woman then sees the woman fall, but by the time she gets up to take a closer look the other train is already gone.
She begins to wonder if what she saw was "real" but when she tries to find out details about the other train and comes up with no body Elspeth decides to discuss it with her friend Miss Marple and let her investigate the crime as with there being no body how can anyone say that there was a crime.
That is about all I can give on a small backstory without giving away spoilers so if you want to know more than you will need to read the book!
This was my first time reading author, Agatha Christie! Yes - I know it is shameful really to never have read her books with her being the Queen of Mystery, but I figure better late than never and so here I am reading my first book by her.
I really enjoyed this story and even though I read the book out of sequence I realized that it doesn't matter as the books are all stand alone. I thought the pacing of the book was fast and once the character, Miss Marple becomes involved the story picks up speed as the mystery deepens within the story and I was rattling my brain trying to figure out who the mystery killer was along with who was the mystery victim!
The suspense of the story kept me on the edge of my seat and I would find myself reading chunks of the story with hours going by as the mystery surrounded me. I am so thankful that I finally decided to jump into a book by Agatha Christie. It was my first but it won't be my last! Giving this book four "Train Terror" stars!
I won't recap much of the plot here, as the product description is sufficient for that purpose (and I certainly would not want to leak any spoilers.) The action commences immediately, and the murder occurs within the first pages of the book. But, there is no body, and the witness, the doddering spinster Elspeth McGillicuddy, is not considered credible by the authorities. However, she convinces her good friend, Miss Marple, that she did indeed witness the strangulation of a woman in a passing train. Miss Marple does a bit of preliminary sleuthing to determine where the body might have been tossed off the train. Then she hires a competent younger woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow (her new understudy perhaps?), to take the house manager position at the estate of the Crackenthorpe family. The estate is near the railway line where Miss Marple presumes that the body would have been disposed of.
We meet the Crackenthorpe family members, all of whom seem to be waiting for the patriarch to kick off so they can get their hands on their share of the estate. Christie has a fine way of sketching out new characters with a brief, succinct description that provides you just enough information to decide how they fit into the picture that she is painting. None of the Crackenthorpes are particularly admirable, with the exception of Emily who seems to be trying to hold the whole estate together single handedly. Other murders start to pile up, but since Christie didn't stir up much sympathy towards those victims, their passing is not tragic.
A lot of Miss Marple's sleuthing appears to occur offstage, and when she finally swoops in to reveal the true murderer, it all seems a bit forced and hurried. However, up until then I found the mystery quite engaging, and the comings and goings of all the characters kept me turning the pages (or rather hitting the forward button) rapidly.
One aspect of Christie's writing that I especially enjoy is the interesting names - Griselda, Eyelesbarrow, McGillicuddy, Wimborne, Quimper, Crackenthorpe, et al. The unique names help you to remember the many characters that inhabit the book.
I will certainly be looking for more in the Miss Marple series, and am sure that I am well on my way to becoming an Agatha Christie fan
Agatha Christie is known for her way with poisons. She’s meticulously accurate as to effects, dosage, etc, thanks to her war work in a hospital pharmacy, where she learned all about drugs and poisons from arsenic to curare to digitalis. Over the course of all her murderous plots, more than 30 of her characters died of poison. And the poisons vary impressively.
So poison with surprising results is part of the fun in this book. But the most fun is Miss Marple. She’s become too old and frail to run around investigating on her own, so she hires a remarkable young woman who’s doing highly paid temporary work as an elite domestic superwoman. Lucy is delightful. In fact, every page of 4:50 from Paddington is a delight.
I’m re-reading all of Miss Marple with deep pleasure. The books are even better the second time around.
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After this great opening however, the pace of the story slows down somewhat. Miss Marple is too old and frail to conduct the investigation so she asks Lucy Eyelesbarrow, a much younger woman to help her. As a result, Miss Marple only occasionally pops up in the story. The police also appear to play a minor role in the investigation, often relying on the evidence that is uncovered by Lucy.
The plot itself becomes a little complex given the number of characters in the story, many of whom have things to hide about their past. In addition, it is very difficult to spot any of the clues as to who is the villain before the final reveal (which may appeal to some budding armchair detectives who enjoy a challenge but which will no doubt irritate others who missed those relevant clues that are few in number). Of course there are plenty of red herrings to lead us astray!
One aspect of this story I found intriguing was the occasional observations made about social issues of the time (e.g. the drop in the number of people entering domestic service as a career; the level of taxation that wealthier people in society were having to pay; suggestions that some men were finding it difficult to cope with the rise of a younger set of independent women who did not conform to the mores of an earlier age, etc.). I had not noticed this in any of Agatha Christie's preceding novels, so she either covered it more subtly in her earlier novels or perhaps I was spending too much time trying to determine 'who dunnit' to notice it!
Finally, one aspect that lessened my overall enjoyment of this story was how much 'coincidence' occurs in the plot which, for me, affects its credibility.
So, while the premise is really promising, the story left me feeling a little disappointed upon finishing it. I enjoyed the interesting observations of life in Britain in the late 1950s and some of the humorous dialogue. However, I felt there were too many red herrings & reliance on coincidence in the plot for my liking.
Lucy is successful that's when the danger begins, enjoy. Highly recommend.
Two trains travel parallel for a short while and Mrs McGillicuddy (what a wonderful name), a passenger on one train, sees a man strangling a woman on the other. She reports the crime but no body is found either on the train or the track. However, Mrs M. is very fortunate to have a friend in Miss Jane Marple - and soon Miss Marple's inquiring mind and ingenuity are hot on the trail of first the body and then the killer.
It is perhaps a step down from Christie's classics such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or And Then There Were None, but is still a very engaging and enjoyable read.
This book gets a little criticism for not really having many clues or much actual detection element in it. It's never quite clear how Miss Marple arrives at the solution, other than her extensive knowledge of human nature. That's not to say that the solution is unclear; it isn't – it makes perfect sense. But the route to it isn't as well defined as Christie's usual.
But regardless, this is still one of my favourite Christie books. I love Miss Marple as a character, even more than M Poirot and his little grey cells, and she's on top form in this one. She gives us some nice village parallels to shed light on the characters of the suspects; she twinkles affectionately at both young Inspector Craddock and Lucy; she does a bit of gentle match-making; and she gives us some classic Delphic pronouncements that leave the reader as beautifully baffled as the other characters.
For me, one of the major joys of Christie's books is that they manage the difficult feat of being full of corpses and yet free of angst – a trick the Golden Age authors excelled in and modern authors seem to have forgotten. She ensures that the soon-to-be victims deserve all they get, being either wicked, nasty or occasionally just tiresome. The dearly-departed's relatives always take a stoic attitude to the death of their parents/spouses/siblings/children which, while it might not be altogether realistic, is certainly considerably more enjoyable than two hundred pages of descriptions of grieving, sobbing, wailing and general tooth-gnashing. In Christie novels, the emphasis is on entertainment – a mystery and a puzzle to solve, rather than an attempt to harrow the soul.
Apart from Miss Marple herself, there are two things that make this one particularly entertaining. Lucy Eyelesbarrow is a great character – a strong, independent young woman, making a success of her life in this post-war world. With the difficulties of getting domestic servants, she has seen an opportunity for herself in being the ultimate housekeeper, and is hugely in demand by ladies everywhere who need help in running their homes. She can and does demand exorbitant wages and never stays anywhere for more than a few weeks, but during those weeks she makes life wonderfully carefree for her employers. So Emma Crackenthorpe of Rutherford Hall jumps at the chance to have her at a reduced rate for a while, to help out with her elderly old curmudgeon of a father and her assortment of brothers and brothers-in-law when they descend on the house en masse for a visit. And it's not long before several of these men have recognised Lucy's unique attractions...
Then there are the two boys, Alexander, the son of a deceased Crackenthorpe sister, and his friend Stodders, both visiting during the school holidays. These two remind me a little of Jennings and Derbyshire, or perhaps like terribly polite and well brought up versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. No counselling for these children! No, indeed! When a corpse is discovered, they don't get traumatised, they get out there looking for clues! In which pursuit they are aided and abetted by a bunch of adults who seem to think it's quite normal, healthy even, for boys their age to be fascinated by all things murderous.
Wonderfully entertaining, full of humour, great plot even if the clues aren't quite fairplay, and a little bit of possible romance to spice things up. Great stuff!