Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — Set in a small village
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #109
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #5
Date Finished: July 29, 2018
Tommy and Tuppence Beresford purchase an old house in a small, seaside village. Tuppence soon finds a clue to a pre-World War I murder in some old children’s books left behind, and starts digging into what turns out to have been an old espionage case. Soon she is discovering old clues left in various places in the house and her gardener is murdered.
Either Tuppence is going senile or I am. Or more likely Christie was as this one tends to ramble around a bit, contain large portions of unimportant dialogue, give obvious clues and then ignore them for 100 pages, and then fizzle with a complete dud of a resolution. This could have used a much tighter edit. No satisfactory resolution is given to either the 60-year-old mystery or the 1973 one. The early one is never clearly pictured, as old characters remain hazy with nobody remembering them fully, while the new one just brings in a new character in the final pages to be the murderer. The 60-year-old timeline is also never kept quite straight, as 90-year-old characters are mentioned as too young to remember the old case, while its resolution is thought to be a possible embarrassment to current politicians. Tommy’s secret service friends never reveal what they know, and apparently there is no such thing as an archives, so everyone just wonders around in a fog.
Christie’s classic mysteries were never this sloppy or dumb. Like Poirot’s last case, Elephants Can Remember, this one is filled with references to their past cases. Although it is fun to have a final visit with Tommy and Tuppence, this is a sad final chapter in their story. I will say that it read well, being all read in one day despite being overlong at 276 pages. Of course, it had to sit on my shelf for 36 years before I got to it, in part probably due to the ugly cover.
And with that, we’ve finished the Silver Age Just the Facts Challenge. Now, free will selection, though I should save mysteries until next year’s challenge, I suppose.