Greetings Marplophiles! The next instalment of my quest to immerse myself in the life work of Jane Marple continues with The Moving Finger….
Jerry Burton is under strict relaxation orders as he recovers from an accident and he and his sister Joanna decide to rent a house in the entirely forgettable village of Lymstock to facilitate this end. Shortly after their arrival Joanna receives a poison pen letter containing some entirely unsavoury (and completely unfounded) accusations. While the siblings laugh the letter off as the work of a bored or religiously zealous resident, other poison pen letters begin making their way around the village causing great upset to their recipients. When one resident is found dead after receiving a letter, with a handwritten note stating, “I can’t go on” beside her corpse, police begin to take the poison pen epidemic more seriously. As suspicions are raised and neighbour turns against neighbour, Jerry becomes more convinced that the poison pen letter writer must be apprehended before another life is taken. Miss Marple makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her appearance towards the end of the book when the investigation stalls and then returns at the climax to apprehend the murderer and explain her methods.
The Usual Suspects:
The handsome gentleman and his equally handsome sister, interlopers in a quiet village, the owner of the house the siblings rent (a delightful elderly spinster fallen on hard times), the overprotective maidservant, the honest, noble village doctor and his energetic, loud-mouthed sister, the well-respected family with a past (including the black sheep adult daughter) and the slightly odd bachelor with a distinctly feminine mind. Plus assorted servants, maids and hangers on.
Level of Carnage:
Level of Wiley-Tricksiness:
Fair to middling. I wasn’t able to guess the killer or the poison pen writer, falling as I did for the red herrings that Christie left lying about to trick to slow of wit. I didn’t feel that the eventual reveal was overly ingenious or satisfying though.
Two knitting needles.
I’m not entirely sure why Christie made this a Marple novel because she’s in it for such an insignificant amount of time and has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot. The book would have been just as good without her and I actually felt a bit cheated that I had to wade through a pretty standard mystery for such a small dose of Marple. I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one if you’re new to Marple, or indeed finishing with it….it was all a bit mediocre and forgettable unfortunately.
Ah well. Better luck next time I suppose.