I find it ironic and amusing how clearly Agatha Christie loved writing about her proper, Matronly sleuth Miss Marple, while making her slightly prejudiced against foreigners, while her other main, Poirot, was such a foreigner he basically embodied everything it means to be one.
p 65: "Miss Marple had never succeeded in abandoning her Victorian view of foreigners. One never KNEW with foreigners.""
I've read a handful of Miss Marple stories, but generally find most of them to be lackluster compared to earlier works or other detectives. I much prefer the quaint, endearing, comically foreign Hercule Poirot. That little mustache swirl gets me every time. Christie's later works – like this one – slow down, depending more on psychological musings and reflections on society taking the plot by the reins rather than action and events.
Nemesis IS depressing. The dark, serious work is enshrouded with despair. Murder is never a laughing matter, but there was no fun here trying to solve the whodunit. By the end, it didn't seem like mystery itself even really mattered anymore. It was more of an exploration of jealousy and things gone wrong.
The biggest issue is that, to me, Christie's enthusiasm with gardens was ridiculous. It almost feels as if the book should have been called Gardens instead, it's that prevalent. In a way gardens do play a small role in the outcome, but still, I grew ridiculously bored hearing the discussions of flowers and gardens for the first half of the book. The only mystery to me there was what they were talking about, and frankly I didn't care to solve that particular mystery.
I can tell from Agatha Christie's biography that she was a bit conservative and behind on some of her viewpoints, but in the case here it was almost shocking. Rape and “making up stories about rape” was almost trivialized. There was a lot of slut-shaming going down. There is a girl who everyone badmouthed as sleeping around. Two mused she would end up in prostitution or stripping when she disappeared. Certainly no one seemed to care that the “slut girl” was gone.
This leads to Marple and a Professor discussing girls of the day, those silly youth and how girls carry on with tales...ugh. The wiser, older generation apparently speaks.
Miss Marple IS likeable in many ways, don't get me wrong, and her strange predjudices against foreigners and the like mainly amuse me more than anything else. Still, her dialogue is always needlessly wordy and halting. There's plenty of – pauses through in the middle of the sentences. She also, being forgetful and absentminded (or pretending to be if it's to help her uncover information), seems to stammer and repeat. Sometimes I feel like screaming, “Just get to the point!”
Nemesis has an intriguing blurb, it's written by a master, and even the title draws the reader in. The slow and almost non-existent pace, the depressing tone, the pointless gardens that dominate the story, and the eyebrow raising social commentary send the reader back out of it again. There is a lot in the book about aches, pains, being tired, and needing to rest. Perhaps while writing this one (Christie was in her 80's), she was feeling tired herself that year and reflecting this through her work.
“I know when a couple are really in love with each other. And by that I do not mean just sexually attracted. There is too much talk about sex, too much attention is paid to it. I do not mean that anything about sex is wrong. That is nonsense. But sex cannot take the place of love, it goes with love, but cannot succeed by itself.”- Miss Marple
“Accuracy is more a male quality than a female one." - Miss Marple
Other Reviews from this series: