Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beach Read: A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple Series) by Agatha Christie

While most of the Miss Marple mysteries written by Agatha Christie were set in the small English village of St. Mary Mead, there are a few exceptions.  And when you take the best selling mystery author of all time with the msot lovable elderly sleuth of all time and set the murder against the background of the tropics, well, it’s a recipe for the quintessential Beach Read. 

Book Title:  A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple Series) by Agatha Christie
Genre:   Mystery
Beach Setting:  (quoted from the book) Lovely and warm, yes—and so good for her rheumatism—and beautiful scenery. 
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  221
Publication date:  Original 1964, reissued 2007
Publisher:  Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, INC
Favorite Passage:  Miss Marple woke early.  Like many old people, she slept lightly and had periods of wakefulness which she used for the planning of some action or actions to be carried out on the next or following days.  Usually, of course, these were of a wholly private or domestic nature, of little interest to anybody but herself.  But this morning Miss Marple lay thinking soberly and constructively of murder, and what, if her suspicions were correct, she could do about it.  It wasn’t going to be easy.  She had one weapon and one weapon only—and that was conversation. 

Beach Read Rating: 5 (out of 5) Beach Umbrellas

Review:  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, lays all the clues out for you like Agatha Christie.  And nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can fit them all together like Miss Jane Marple in order to figure out whodunit!  This book has all the classic Miss Marple tricks of taking what she knows of human nature (having studied people back in St. Mary Mead) and applying those behavioral tendencies to the current cast of characters.  And while it’s not edge-of-your-seat Nancy-Drew type adventure, the story rolls along at a decent clip, picking up steam and dropping clues like an oak tree drops acorns in the fall.  You just have to make sure you pick up the nuts that are pertinent to the case.   Good luck solving this one on your own!  

Cover blurb:  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 spend 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 out this person before he or she can strike again. 

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