#65 – A Caribbean Mystery

“Like to see the picture of a murderer?” 65. A Caribbean Mystery

Major Palgrave was a bit of a bore but when he dies suddenly shortly after uttering these words Miss Marple’s suspicions are aroused. She finds the picture he was talking about has disappeared – or  has it? Had he moved onto a different subject? And the sight of which of their fellow guests had caused him to end his story so abruptly? If only she’d paid more attention because the next day the Major is dead, seemingly of natural causes, but naturally she is not satisfied.

Miss Marple is especially devious in her investigations – inventing a dead nephew in an attempt to get hold of the mysterious photograph and later damaging a shoe and faking a fall in case she should be observed spying on someone.

In the absence of Sir Henry Clithering or Dermot Craddock she has to enlist the help of irascible, but influential, millionaire Mr Rafiel, to give her investigation some weight.

If you can no longer be sure who your neighbours might really be (A Murder is Announced) how much more uncertain are you of fellow holidaymakers who have no one else to vouch for their bona fides. And even Miss Marple isn’t exactly who she appears to be as she takes on the mantle of Nemesis!

Recurring Character Development

Miss Marple

Her nephew, Raymond West, sends her modern novels which she does not enjoy reading.

Last winter “she had had a bad go of pneumonia and medical opinion had advised sunshine”. Raymond has arranged and paid for her holiday.

Has rheumatism in her neck.

Once met a young man at a croquet party who seemed so nice but when he was warmly welcomed by her father she found that after all he was very dull.

Towards the end of the book reads a few verses from Thomas à Kempis, turns out the light and sends up a prayer.

Signs of the Times

Major Palgrave says “Take all this business about Kenya” and given the book was published in 1964 he is likely to be referring to the fact that it became an independent country in 1963.

The Hillingdons have articles published in the National Geographic and the Royal Horticultural Journal. The former has been published monthly since 1888, currently with 33 different versions around the world. The latter has been known since 1975 as The Garden.

Miss Marple misquotes from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”: Duncan is dead (should be “Duncan’s in his grave”). After Life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.

What’s In A Name Quiz – The Answers

A number of the British Library Crime Classics contain a subtitle on the front cover. Here are the answers to last week’s quiz:

An Alpine Mystery – Crossed Skis by Carol Carnac

A Cambridge Mystery – The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen Leigh

A Christmas Crime Story – Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon & Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

A Devon Mystery – Fire in the Thatch & Murder in the Mill-Race by E. C. R. Lorac

A Fireworks Night Mystery – The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons

A Lancashire Mystery – Fell Murder by E. C. R. Lorac

A London Mystery – Bats in the Belfry by E. C. R. Lorac, The Lost Gallows by John Dickson Carr, & Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert

A Paris Mystery – It Walks by Night & The Corpse in the Waxworks by John Dickson Carr

A Rhineland Mystery – Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

A Seasonal Mystery – The Christmas Egg by Mary Kelly

A Second World War Mystery – Checkmate to Murder by E. C. R. Lorac, Death Has Deep Roots & Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert, & Murder’s A Swine by Nap Lombard

A Scottish Mystery – Murder of a Lady – by Anthony Wynne

A Staffordshire Mystery – The Spoilt Kill by Mary Kelly

A Yorkshire Mystery – The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs

What’s In A Name Quiz

A number of the British Library Crime Classics contain a subtitle on the front cover. Can you identify the title(s) that go with these description – there are 22 books in total:

An Alpine Mystery

A Cambridge Mystery

A Christmas Crime Story

A Devon Mystery

A Fireworks Night Mystery

A Lancashire Mystery

A London Mystery

A Paris Mystery

A Rhineland Mystery

A Seasonal Mystery

A Second World War Mystery

A Scottish Mystery

A Staffordshire Mystery

A Yorkshire Mystery

The Strange Case of the Barrington Hills Vampire (2020) by James Scott Byrnside

The third book in the Rowan Manory series takes us back in time to 1920 whenVampire he has just made his name with the Case of the Bloody Shawl and as a result has been invited to speak at the annual dinner of the prestigious Detectives Club. It is this fame that causes Thomas Browning to offer him a fat fee to come to Barrington Hills to debunk a psychic who has got into the head of his business partner Hadd Mades.

Manory seems to have laid the vampire to rest with some neat explanations following a séance, particularly those relating to the original legend, but the next morning he is faced with a murder that he cannot explain.

The reader is provided with a number of floor plans, diagrams showing footprints in the snow, a dying message clue (described by Manory as “one of the seven wonders of detection” – will we ever learn what the other six are), and finally an eight part Challenge to the Reader – what more could a GAD enthusiast want?

The framing of the story with the Detectives Club dinner enables the dénouement to be played out in a way that is different from normal and the motive when it is finally revealed could have come from one of my favourite authors.

I noticed a repeating motif across the three books and it will be interesting to see if this is used again in the fourth book, publication date to be confirmed, titled The Five False Suicides which I am now awaiting with eager anticipation.