Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

67. The Moving Finger - third in the Miss Marple series
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1942
Kindle book - 13
finished, 11/22/10

I had such a strange few weeks of reading after finishing my beloved Scarlet Feather on October 25. I began several books which I did not want to continue. One was a mystery that just got too creepy for me though I read half of it before quitting - The Glass Devil by Helene Tursten. I tried another mystery, one from the Golden Age, but I found it so confusing, with so many characters who didn't stand out from one another, and such a boring story that I quit this one too - Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes. Then I began a cozy, which isn't always my favorite genre, though I do adore some. This one was a bit too romancey for me - Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. I tried another sort-of cozy, but it wasn't the first in the series, and I couldn't catch up with what was going on with the characters - A Puzzle in a Pear Tree by Parnell Hall. I read quite a bit of another mystery, and didn't care for it and dropped it - A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley. I began yet another mystery, and just couldn't get into it - Walking Into Murder by Joan Dahr Lambert. I may try any or all of these at another time, but my first attempts weren't successful.

So, who better to 'cleanse the palate' than Agatha Christie? This is the third Miss Marple novel, though she doesn't make an appearance until nearly the end. She 'solves' the mystery, but I found her to be an odd, barely fleshed out character. I'm not sure why Agatha even included Jane Marple. The book went along just fine without her, though the mystery may not have been solved!

The narrator is a most pleasant fellow named Jerry Burton who is recovering from an accident. His doctor recommends that he and his sister, Joanna rent a house in the country where nothing happens so he can get complete rest and relaxation. Well, it wouldn't be a mystery book if this was the case, would it? The little village is besieged by poison pen letters. They aren't true, but they deeply upset the bearers and their families. Doubts crop up. Could he or she really have done that? When one of these letters presumably ends in a suicide, it becomes very serious.

Sometimes I think every Agatha Christie I read is my favorite, but this one really is very, very good. It has a light cheeriness which isn't always present in mysteries. The characters are exceedingly well-drawn and memorable. I didn't have to wonder who someone was, and have to look back to an earlier appearance. The Moving Finger was a perfect reading experience.


  1. It's a very enjoyable read isn't it..
    I can picture the characters as soon as you mention the title..the gawky duckling Megan ? (if I remember it correctly)
    Agatha is good for an absorbing non stressful read isn't she.
    Have you read the Sittaford Mystery yet?

  2. I haven't but want to! And yes, you have the name right. Such a nice ending for her!

  3. It's a good thing you decided to go with this one, especially after all those disappointing starts!!

  4. Nan, incidentally, I've read this book only two or three weeks ago and enjoyed it a lot, for the humour, the light elegance of its language and the thoroughly pleasant character of the narrator. Just like you, I think the story would have been good enough without Miss Marple putting in an appearance at all. None of the other Agatha Christie novels I read after that one quite matched it, I'm afraid.

  5. Staci, I know!

    Librarian, which ones did you read afterwards? I like that "pleasant character of the narrator." Exactly!

  6. Among others, I read "A Pocket Full Of Rye" and "Miss Marples Last Cases". Especially the latter contained some rather strange stories, and in at least one of them, Miss Marple does not put in an appearance at all.

  7. I do that too, Nan - 'cleanse the plate' with Agatha Christie, I mean. Did it last week. I'm having an attack of the reading 'blahs' myself. THE MOVING FINGER is a good one. Haven't read it in years, but I think I remember it pretty well.

  8. Thanks for coming back and letting me know, Librarian. I did read the first one, and wrote about it here, if you are interested:

    Yvette, happily I've finished and loved two books since Miss M., and am reading two more that are great, so far. Ah, the relief of reading good books!

  9. Also one of my Christie favorites! I think I'll re-read it again :) Have you tried The Murder of Roger Ackroyd? It's a Christie featuring Poirot but with a different character that narrates. A good one with a twist. Happy reading!

  10. Rebecca, I have heard of it, and even know the twist, but I've not read it. Maybe next year! Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. The funny thing about Ackroyd is that Christie tried a similar twist in THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT and nobody noticed. One of the reasons MITBS is my favorite is precisely because I love the villain.

  12. Yvette, I will look into both of these books in 2011! I could really spend the whole year with AC!

  13. Very nice review Nan! I read the book recently and agree with all you said. It's amazing how an Agatha book just draws you in from the very beginning. I'm grateful to you and other the book bloggers who re-introduced me to her.

  14. Sallie, I hope to read a lot more of AC in the new year.

  15. So glad to read that Agatha Christie cleansed your palate. I probably read this one a long time ago but don't remember it. Since I'm rereading them in order, it may be a while I get to it. Miss Marple is one of my favorites so I'm sorry she's not in the whole of this story.

  16. Margot, I went back to the book reports I wrote about the Jane Marple books, and I saw that she wasn't a big presence in At Bertram's Hotel either.
    Even though she isn't in this book much, it is still really great!


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