Mondays with Marple: The Thirteen Problems…

 

 

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Morning Marple fans! Today’s Mondays with Marple pick is The Thirteen Problems. This book is a collection of short stories, so it’s a bit different from Christie’s usual fare, but let’s plunge right in anyway, shall we?  Knitting needles ready everyone?

Thirteen Problems

Plot Summary:

The Thirteen Problems centres around the exploits of the Tuesday Night Club, a group of St Mary Mead locals and others who, on a whim, decide to regale each other with true tales of murder and the macabre to see if anyone present is able to unravel the mystery.  The stories run the gamut from your standard, quite-easy-to-guess puzzle, to the complex, “well-I-never-saw-that-coming”, in-depth examination of motives and opportunities.

The Usual Suspects:

As there are so many stories here, every usual suspect you could ever hope to find graces the pages, from the retired military man, to the nurse/household help/elderly companion enveigling their way into polite society after a well-hidden stint in prison, to the jealous sister-in-law/wife/lover/next door neighbour….and then of course there’s Miss Marple’s odious and smug nephew, the famous writer Raymond West.

Level of Carnage:

High.  There are plenty of murders, obviously, given the fact that there are multiple stories.

Level-of-Wiley-Tricksiness:

Variable.  Some of the stories are typical of Christie’s ability to seamlessly weave in complex character backstories in the face of baffling events, whereas some others follow a slightly more predictable route.  As I was reading a few of the stories I had the sense that I knew where things were going and I eventually figured out that I had actually watched a few of the stories as full-length telemovies and so I already knew the ending.  Bizarrely, I am almost certain that in one case, the telemovie I had seen for one particular story featured Poirot, so that was disorienting to say the least.

Overall Rating:

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Three knitting needles.  I read this in the manner of a novel but I suspect it would best be savoured in parts.  I recommend popping it on your nightstand (or other book receptacle) and dipping into it whenever you feel like pitting your wits against the spinster who knits.

99 problems

Until next time,

Bruce

 

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9 thoughts on “Mondays with Marple: The Thirteen Problems…

  1. Sounds like exactly what I’d like to have on my night stand! I do like Christie, and short mysteries can be good for bedtime reading!

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  2. I remember flying through this as well and being slightly annoyed by the smugness that Marple sometimes seemed to have…although were I in that group I think I would also judge them as inferior. Like most short story compilations of mysteries, it is hit and miss, probably more noticeable for reading it in just a few sittings though.

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    • Yes, she does seem a bit overly gloating in some of them, but then again well might she. I do love a good compilation though – I feel there’s no guilt attached to skipping over the crappier stories in a big collection.

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    • Nor had I, up until a few years ago. She’s definitely worth a read though…my favourites are the Poirot books, but And Then There Were None is a piece of writing brilliance too. And she also wrote some literary fiction under the name Mary Westmacott, but I’ve only read one of those so far.

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      • I’ve looked at the covers and opened them, but with so much else to read—especially kidlit—I’ve just never taken the plunge. Who knows? Maybe someday 🙂

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