Title: The Moving Finger (Miss Marple #3)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication Date: July 1942
Review Date: March 29, 2022
Number of Pages: 299
My Rating: 4/5
A very engaging story with a lot of tiny details peppered throughout, and some lovely misdirection, a true Christie trait.
The placid village of Lymstock seems the perfect place for Jerry Burton to recuperate from his accident under the care of his sister, Joanna. But soon a series of vicious poison-pen letters destroys the village’s quiet charm, eventually causing one recipient to commit suicide. The vicar, the doctor, the servants—all are on the verge of accusing one another when help arrives from an unexpected quarter. The vicar’s houseguest happens to be none other than Jane Marple.
Read an Agatha Christie book after a long long time, and a Miss Marple at that. However, this was a different sort of theme, in that Miss Marple shows up very late in the story. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and indeed the story is still fantastic, but Miss Marple lovers do note that she has a smaller role than we are normally used to.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to The Moving Finger. Which is, as usual, amazing. Long time readers of this site would know I am a huge fan of Christie and her works, so my reviews are often (mostly) effusive praise. This is another addition to my Agatha Christie Challenge.
The story itself is set in a bucolic town named Lymstock, where our narrator Jerry moves to with his sister Joanna. He has been medically advised to live in a quiet town “where nothing ever happens” for a while in order to recover from an injury. As it turns out, a lot is happening in this town, and Jerry finds himself drawn to the proceedings.
There is a spate of anonymous letters, slowly targeting almost everyone in town, including the newcomers. Jerry tries to draw inferences and this, combined with his friendship with the town doctor, Dr. Owen Griffith, keeps him informed about the new developments in the case. A very engaging story with a lot of tiny details peppered throughout, and some lovely misdirection, a true Christie trait.
At the end, he understands Miss Marple’s thought process and theory, but it was simply a question of putting things together. You see, Jerry had already picked up on many salient points and presented them to us. Astute readers would enjoy trying to solve the mystery alongside Jerry’s attempts to do so. If you’re like me, you’d rather just see where it leads based on the genius that is Christie’s mind. I did have a particular person in mind as the culprit, and it turns out I was very wrong. I thoroughly enjoy being wrong about Christie stories. It makes it even more fun when I see what actually transpired.
Fans of Agatha Christie, cozy mysteries, unreliable characters, misdirection, twist endings, Miss Marple, quick reads.