After my bad experience with Agatha Christie’s mystery set in Ancient Egypt, it was quite a relief to get back to the English countryside, and doubly so to find that the next Christie book in my TBR pile had the typical Christie mix of entertainment and intrigue with just enough character development to give the reader the information they need to try to guess at the murderer.
Sleeping Murder (which, according to the cover is Miss Marple’s Last Case) was published in 1976, but somehow feels a coupe of decades earlier… in my opinion, a good thing. And yes, Agatha Christie died a few months before its publication.
Had she lost a step? I really didn’t think so while reading it–it felt very similar to the work she did in her heyday but–and this isn’t necessarily conclusive evidence–I was able to guess the murderer at a very early stage, and none of Christie’s handwaving made me change my mind. That’s unusual in the extreme, and I don’t recall doing it all that often (I’d say I guess in maybe one of five caes).
Of course, many of Christie’s books flirt with the concept of fairness. They’re not murder mysteries in which all the clues are presented objectively so the reader can work alongside the detective, but they are usually veiled and incomplete. They are more mystery entertainment than actual play-along-with-me kind of mysteries.
Nevertheless, once you know a little about how Agatha Christie works, you can often predict where she’ll go, and in this case it was particularly easy.
Even taking this into account, and despite being a Marple mystery (I personally much prefer Poirot), it was a very enjoyable quick read. I guess it takes a slipup like the Egyptian thing to make one realize just how consistently good Agatha Christie really was.
Gustavo Bondoni’s own take on the mystery / thriller genre is anything but cozy. Timeless is a chilling transition from an intellectual literary mystery to a world of international criminals, violence and murder. You can check it out here.