Monday, August 9, 2010
A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
In a Caribbean Mystery Miss Marple is wintering in the West Indies to benefit her health. Her nephew Raymond sent her on this holiday after she contracted pneumonia during the previous winter in St Mary Mead. At the Golden Palm Hotel, Miss Marple is of course soon ensconced in trying to unravel a complicated murder, which inevitably becomes three murders.
My favourite aspect of this Christie novel is the central role idle gossip plays in this resort town. It is deliciously evoked all the way through. And while I know gossip usually forms the cornerstone of the Miss Marple mysteries (what else has the poor old dear got to work with) in this novel it really does take centre stage and is done with fun and mischievous flair.
"It seems," said Miss Prescott, "though of course I don't want to talk any scandal and I really know nothing about it- "
''Oh, I quite understand," said Miss Marple. p. 52
There are the usual suspects so to speak on this Caribbean holiday experience in the early 1960s. The couple who own the Hotel are much liked, but also much gossiped over. There is the young American couple and the young English couple who share an interest in insects and birdlife and who appear to holiday regularly as a quartet, and it is whispered that on first appearances it is difficult to discern who is indeed partnered with whom. There is the crotchety old millionaire businessman who never has a pleasant word to say to anyone especially his long suffering secretary ( a serious young widow) and his masseuse (a good looking jack the lad type). There is the English vicar and his sister, the gorgeous South American senora and poor old Major Polgrave who doesn't last much beyond the first couple of pages as his gossiping to Miss Marple no less, about an old murder, is overhead and he is found dead the very next day.
I think perhaps I have read maybe 10 Christie novels over the years, including The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Between Poirot and Miss Marple, I have always preferred the Poirot mysteries because more seemed to happen. A Caribbean Mystery has gone some way to remedying this as I just loved it for what it is: a well plotted, well written, cute and cosy murder mystery.