4:50 From Paddington

(Miss Marple, #8)

Elspeth McGillicuddy is not given to hallucinations. Until she witnesses a murder at Paddington Station. But did she? No victim, no suspect, no other witnesses. In fact no one believes it really happened at all. Except her friend Miss Jane Marple, and she's returning to the scene of the crime to discover just exactly what Mrs. McGillicuddy saw.

 “Don’t go,” said Cedric. “Murder has made you practically one of the family.”

NOTE - Also known as the 4:50 to Paddington and Murder, she Said

Alas, another Agatha Christie book I like! McGillicuddy and the bafamed Ms. Marple make a witty, clever pairing, the new introduced character Lucy is an admirable force, while all suspects and characters in the Ruthford Hall estate are gratifying to read about. The book starts out a little slow and after time I grew impatient with the older woman's fretting, but once she leaves and Ms. Marple hires Lucy to act as a domestic at the estate (to find a hidden body), it really takes off.

The inside routines and daily lives of the characters is intriguing. Marple's new assistant fit right in - I couldn't help but chuckle and lavishly follow the side story of the old, crotchety man making leering advances toward Lucy. There are some decent twists, too, they keep the story fresh. As the mystery continues and no end seems in sight, the bodies start piling up, tugging off suspects from the ever-baffling list.

The viciously grim mystery kept me enthralled and it was nearly impossible to put down. It possessed a certain trait that's impossible to pinpoint. While slower at first and perhaps cursed with too much build-up, when the story takes off it soars. I think the main appeal here are the characters - they're fascinating, and sadly I can't even describe why. There's just something addictive about them, like sinfully rich chocolate, as happens with most Christie books. I suspect this is another reason she is so popular, not just the plotting.

There really is no way to figure out the ending without a lucky guess; sadly Marple isn't seen too much and relies much on Lucy, who is more or less the main character. The ending is a clever twist on how to unmask the murderer, yet there is so little build-up as to how Marple reached this conclusion that it's almost implausible. I love when I can't figure something out accurately, but when the revelation almost seems too convenient, that spoils it slightly too.

That disappointment aside, it irked me a bit on the last page when we couldn't see where Lucy ended up, with Marple's "twinkling eye" telling all. Come on now Christie, I have no imagination, I need details woman! I waited through the entire book to find the result of that little love triangle, now spill it! Oh well, another one of life's mysteries that will not be solved for yours truly.

If you're a mystery fan be sure to pick this one up - it's not her best and not perfect, the ending may cause some mild aching, but overall a rewarding read.

   Book Quotes:

“True to the precepts handed down to her by her mother and grandmother—to wit: that a true lady can neither be shocked nor surprised—Miss Marple merely raised her eyebrows and shook her head”

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