A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

June 7, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): Stricken with arthritis, Miss Jane Marple has packed herself off, at the insistence of her nephew, for some rest and relaxation at a resort in the Caribbean. The sea is sublime and the weather is fine in this quiet paradise so far away from bustling St. Mary Mead. But suddenly the calm is interrupted by the death of Major Palgrave, one of her fellow guests at the hotel.

Miss Marple finds herself quite disturbed by this turn of events. She’d just spent the previous evening speaking with the major, who’d seemed to her to be in perfectly good health. He’d been telling her about a photograph that he had—”a snapshot of a murderer…,” he’d claimed. Convinced that the major’s death was not at all natural, she begins to ask difficult questions. It soon becomes clear that a murderer is lurking among her companions at the hotel, and it is up to Miss Marple to root this person out before he or she can strike again.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • As with most Agatha Christie books, this one was a breezy read. It was very enjoyable and I got through it in a single weekend. The plot was lean, with zero extraneous scenes or boring parts that had to be plowed through.
  • Miss Marple was involved from beginning to end. I love Miss Marple, and have been disappointed by past books featuring this elderly detective because she only made a cursory appearance near the end. But she is featured very heavily in A Caribbean Mystery, which added to the charm (if “charm” can be used to describe a murder mystery!).
  • Miss Marple’s realization that Major Palgrave could have only been looking in one direction because of his glass eye was pretty clever. I have to admit that detail slipped right by me.
  • I thought Christie did a good job of including some plausible suspects in the suspect pool. I thought for sure Lucky was involved somehow, and then my focus shifted to Jackson about halfway through. I didn’t come close to guessing that Tim Kendall was the real killer.

Disliked:

  • I wasn’t too thrilled with the part about Tim Kendall being an assumed identity. How are readers supposed to guess something like that? Also, I think this is the third or even fourth time one of Christie’s killers had been working under a false name. I just kind of rolled my eyes at the repetition. Sure, I know plenty of real killers probably change their names when running away from crimes. I don’t doubt that as a means of living while on the lam. But I do find it a bit tiresome that Christie had to reach back to the same gimmick that she used in previous books.

Rating:

Overall, I thought A Caribbean Mystery was a solid piece of old-school detective fiction. The great Miss Marple graces almost every single page, the murderer’s identity was fairly difficult to guess (for me, at least), and the motive was believable. I wish the killer had a more original backstory, but with as many novels as Christie wrote, I guess it’s no surprise that she had to recycle a bit. Nevertheless, I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

2 Responses to “A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie”

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  2. I am afraid my no 1 suspect was always poor old Tim; no-one else seemed to fit the role of a serial wife-murderer and the point about the Major’s glass eye did not escape me. I do not think the question of the alias is an unfair trick. If you’d bumped off a couple of spouses I reckon a change of name would be in order!
    Old Aggie nearly always played fair in her stories, and if you use your little grey cells you can usually work out whodunnit before the denoument. One thing she was inclined to do was to provide a piece of important information (not necessarily a clue in itself) near the beginning of the story on the basis that you would be likely to forget about it. The detective, of course, would not. The glass eye was this in the current case.

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