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?
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.
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.
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.
Until next time,