Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Image result for sleeping murderGwenda who has lived most of her life in New Zeland has moved back to England with her new husband. She has settled in a beautiful villa in Dillmouth. While she is settling in her new house, she is constantly reminded of some vague familiarity with her new place. Gwenda is in for a shock when these obscure reminiscences are turned into a memory of murder. It turns out Gwenda's new house is actually her old house. As a small child she used to live here, but was packed and sent to her relatives in NZ.

Gwenda is now suffering from panic attacks and wants to get behind the mystery of her past. Can she verify the veracity of her childhood memory? what happened to her family? who is the murdered person in her visions? The old spinster Miss Marple steps in to help Gwenda decode her past. Miss Marple warns her to let sleeping murder lie or she might get more than what she bargained for.

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Published in 1976, Sleeping Murder is the last Novel in the Miss Marple series. Since I'm not too fond of Christie's short stories I will probably skip 'Miss Marple's final cases'; so this is effectively my last Miss Marple post. Miss Marple features fleetingly in the story and steps in only to resolve some conflict in the plot or help out the protagonist. Of course she comes in the end to reveal the murderer. So from a last Jane Marple book perspective we actually get to see her very less, which might not be a bad thing. Miss Marple is a demure, sweater knitting, uninteresting spinster and her inconspicuousness is important to the story. In those novels where she tends to dominate the story line or presented frequently to the reader, things don't pan out too well. See Nemesis. With Poirot, Holmes or HM we can't usually wait for them to come back in the story but with Miss Marple that is indeed not the case.

Sleeping Murder is another novel which uses murder in the past formula. I recently read Halloween Party which had the same theme, another Christie book which uses this formula is Five Little Pigs both star the enduring Hercule Poirot.  So does Christie's third attempt at the same formula work?

It certainly does. This is third time lucky for Christie, Five little Pigs and Halloween party were also well received and so is Sleeping murder. The plot is tight with the mystery of murder in the past. The characters are interesting and slowly introduced in the plot, giving the reader time to recognize and know them(trust me characterization is not a Christie forte). Multiple murders compound the mystery and the book is riddled with fare clues making it easy to figure out how the murder was done and who committed the murder. I believe I cracked the case half way through the book, but continued to read and enjoy.

Some things which annoyed me were how can people in Christie books remember events which happened 16-18 years ago with precision? I can't seem to recall what I was doing last week? Also general police ineptitude in these books is appalling.

I would like to rate this as a 3 out of 5 stars. Well written and good characterization with a tried and tested formula. Nothing special but not bad.
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