One’s time period can be such a bother, don’t you think? Or, in some cases, very inspiring. I, for instance, never thought I’d see the time when a Cheeto could become president. I mean, president of the Frito-Lay Corporation, sure. But an elected position? A victory for processed foods! Out with the vegetable gardens, in with the snack machines! Wait, not that kind of orange finger food? Oh. Oh, well… nevermind. Back to what I was saying about inspiration. I mean, hey–I’m in my forties. I actually had a grandmother who referred to black Americans as ‘coloreds.’ Think about the sea of societal change iin this time period, from the court case upholding desegregating schools in 1954 (way to go, independent Justice Branch!) to an actual African-American President of the U.S. in 2008. That’s pretty amazing. Sometimes I think I’m in the right epoch, and other times I don’t. I mean, processed snack foods–gross.
Take Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, for instance. If only we could have left a bunch of her era’s prejudices and populist ideas out of the book, it’d be much more tolerable. Did we need to have the social commentary on the marriage and procreative habits of the islanders? Not necessary to the plot in the least, and yet it gets mentioned a number of times, at least four or five, I should think. Along with the weird psychoanalysis of women in general. Please. Skip those bits and you have a delightful mystery in a beautiful setting, although one can’t help wish–just a little bit, says Miss Marple–for some actual English weather (not me, though. I can totally not wish for English weather).
Dear Raymond has sent Miss Marble on an island vacation, to rest her rheumatism and test her skills. Not long after Major is telling her a story about a murderer, he himself it found dead. Mon dieu! Wait, wrong character. But Miss Marple is too genteel to use exclamatory phrases. It’s a gentle kind of narrative at first, where Miss Marple looks back on life, human nature, the challenges of aging, and picks apart the relationships of the other guests at the resort. Surprising to me were the short bits that included a third-person perspective of another couple of characters. It was obvious Christie was using it to build suspense and as a red herring, but I was a bit surprised to note such a cheap trick. Ah well.
It really was a fun little story, with some interesting twists and a multiple body count to keep the reader in a state of fear. The resort proved to be a typical Christie setting of the isolated manor house/guests, leading to a limited pool of suspects. This one, I remembered reading before, so I can’t say whether it surprised. But I enjoyed it and polished it off quickly.