On With the Marplethon

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
Grade: B

The title of this novel is, of course, a reference to the poem by Omar Khayyam,

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

The Moving Finger is one of the books that I purchased at the Westerly book sale. I was disappointed to find after reading a few pages that I had read it before (which means I must have another copy of it kicking around somewhere, darnit). But I was lucky in that I didn’t remember whodunit, so it was a mystery until the end, the way it was supposed to be.

The plot is simple. Jerry Burton, injured in a plane crash, rents a house in the countryside where he hopes to recuperate in peace. His sister, Joanna, accompanies him. Once there, they receive a vicious anonymous letter. Soon they find out that most of the villagers have received similar letters. It all seems more annoying than harmful until people start dying. Can they discover the identity of the poison pen before there’s another victim?

The biggest problem with this Marple mystery was that Miss Marple didn’t make an appearance until page 142 of this 200 page book. Honestly, I don’t know why Christie bothered to put Miss Marple in the story at all. I also didn’t like the first-person narrative (I almost never do) and I found the ending rather abrupt. Overall, I’d call The Moving Finger readable but not worth the time unless you’re a Christie fan. It is important to note, however, that the online reviews I found for this book were positive and some reviewers mentioned that Christie herself considered it a favorite.

My favorite quote from the book:

I like walking at night. Nobody stops you and says silly things, and I like the stars, and things smell better, and everyday things look all mysterious.—spoken by the character named Megan

Phrases I hadn’t seen before:

all of a heap: 1. amazed or 2. suddenly.

crock up: to suffer a nervous breakdown

seed cake: old-fashioned cake containing caraway seeds

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