Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Moving Finger: Agatha Christie


One of the things I like about Agatha Christie's books is that she often surprises me. Some of the books follow a fairly standard plot line but others, like this one, stray from the norm. The Moving Finger has a first person narrator, Jerry Burton. He has moved to the small village of Lymstock with his sister to recuperate from a serious injury. The village is much quieter than they are used to, but that is the point. Then, shortly after he arrives, he receives a very nasty poison pen letter.  He finds out later that there have been others. All of a sudden the village becomes more menacing, and a couple of deaths follow.

I enjoyed this book, the story and the characters. However it was billed as a Miss Marple mystery and she barely shows up until the end, making her part in the solving the mystery a bit unrealistic. It felt to me like she was an afterthought.

I have only read maybe 10 or 12 Agatha Christie novels in the last three or four years, but it also seems to me that this one has a little more romance than usual. The attraction builds slowly and one wonders where it is going, but it is a nice addition. All in all, I would say The Moving Finger is one of my favorite Christie novels so far.

If you are interested in a more detailed overview of the story or samples of the text, see the posts at Mysteries in Paradise and Clothes in Books.

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Publisher:  Dell, 1972. Orig. pub. 1942.
Length:     189 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Miss Marple, #3
Setting:     Small village, UK.
Genre:      Mystery
Source:     Purchased at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale, 2005.

26 comments:

  1. Nice cover, but that's where the attraction ends for me I'm afraid!

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    1. It is a lovely cover, Col. I definitely would not recommend this Christie to you. But it was a good one for me.

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  2. I remember that cover, I bought it when it came out (it's long since gone to the Goodwill or somewhere). I liked this Christie OK. The BBC TV version included the young "tomgirl" trying as hard as possible to look like Princess Di, which grated on me a bit. To be fair, that was the director's fault.

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    1. Back in the seventies when this came out, all my mysteries came from the library. I might have purchased the Rex Stout books, since he was my favorite even then. I haven't seen very many TV adaptations of Agatha Christie's books. Thanks for visiting, Terry.

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  3. Been decades since I read this one, but like you, I do remember noticing how late Miss Marple entered the fray - but then, she doesn;t do much in detecting in a lot of them anyway compared with Poirot.

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    1. I have only read the first three recently enough to remember them, Sergio, but she was much more present in the first two. I did not miss her in this one, I just kept wondering why it was listed as a Miss Marple mystery. In a sense I misspoke on that, anyway, because on the cover of this edition, Miss Marple is only mentioned in the last sentence of the summary.

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  4. Tracy, I have not read this Christie title yet but I believe it is one of her better novels, I, too, have not read more than a dozen of her books. For some reason, I just can't seem to get back to her mysteries.

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    1. Prashant, I get in the mood for Christie for awhile, then out of the mood. Of course, at this rate, I may never get through all of them.

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  5. I quite liked this one and also the movie made from it.

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    1. As I mentioned above, I haven't watched many (maybe not any) TV adaptations of the Christie books. I have seen at least one movie (Murder on the Orient Express). I would like to see some of the Poirot books with David Suchet, but only after I have read the associated books.

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  6. I think you're right, Tracy, that this one has a little more romance than do a lot of Christie's other work. And you bring up the interesting point that Miss Marple doesn't play the major role here that she does in some other novels featuring her. Still, there are parts of this book I really enjoy. I like the village atmosphere, and I think the two main characters are quite appealing. Glad you enjoyed this.

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    1. The village atmosphere is great in this, Margot. Christie makes it seem that anyone in the village could have been capable of murder. She is a very clever author.

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  7. That's what I like about Christie, too. I want to see how she will surprise me. I'm looking forward to reading more of Christie. Glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy. Now, I have to see if I have it in my pile. I'm sure I do.

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    1. I hope you have this one, Keishon. I want to finally get to The 4:50 From Paddington and that means I have three more Marple novels to read before I get there.

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  8. Thanks for the shoutout Tracy, and yes this is one of my favourite Christies. I really like the romance in it, but also it is an excellent and really well-worked-out plot - very clever.

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    1. I agree with all you say, Moira. It made me want to read more of the Christie mysteries, but it will be at least Jan or Feb before I can do that. Oh well.

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    2. Thanks, TracyK, for your fine review; even though I've read only a couple by Christie (but I've seen lots of film/TV adaptations), I've added this one to my must-read list, a list that grows fast because of great book blogs like yours. All the best from R.T. at http://thesimpleartofmurder.blogspot.com/

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    3. R.T., I found The Moving Finger to be a very good novel. Of all the Christie's I have read in the last 3 years, I have only had problems with one of them. The others have all been entertaining from beginning to end with great plots.

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  9. Can't recall if I've read this one, but I think not. I seem to recall reading somewhere (thus this comment is not to be trusted, I guess) that Christie wrote some novels and then put one of her series characters into them in order to fold them into the series for sales purposes. Possibly that is the case here? -- I just looked, I have this on the shelf, but with a different cover.

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    1. Richard, I did wonder if Miss Marple was just included for the exact reason you suggest, and maybe even at the suggestion of her publisher. Her insertion does not harm the story, but it doesn't add much either. I cannot remember this many years later whether I bought this book for the skeleton on the cover or just to supplement my supply of books by Christie.

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  10. I'm due for a Christie...(making a note here)

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    1. Good, Mathew, and I will be eager to see your thoughts on the book.

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  11. I liked this one too, Tracy, though it's not one of my favorite favorites. :) I also remember that the Joan Hickson TV version was excellent. Though it was pretty easy to figure out the killer or maybe it's that having known in advance I kept thinking how obvious it all was. But maybe I need to read the book again just to see.

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    1. I would like to try some of the TV adaptations with Joan Hickson, Yvette. She looks like she would fit the part perfectly.

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  12. I haven't read any of her books for years. Maybe it's time to look them up again.
    Ann

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    1. Ann, I read many, many Agatha Christie books in my teens and twenties. I don't even remember which ones I read. I was reluctant to come back to them. I did not remember how great she is with plots and misdirection. I have really enjoyed reading more of them at this point in my life.

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