#72 – Nemesis

Perusing the death notices in The Times Miss Marple notes that her one-time ally Mr Rafiel has died but she is still very surprised when his solicitors ask her to see them in London. Her surprise grows when she is presented with a letter from the dead man asking her to investigate a crime but without telling her anything about it. However after she has accepted the offer she receives a ticket for Tour N0 37 of the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Britain.

And so begins a literal mystery tour, although Mr Rafiel arranged for a number of other people to make their entrances at appropriate junctures, so Miss Marple is not working completely in the dark.

Whilst no one who seriously wanted justice to be done would set up such a scheme, the story progresses in a logical manner and is a return to some sort of form after the execrable “Passenger to Frankfurt”.

This is the final Miss Marple novel (Sleeping Murder though published later was both set and written earlier) and we can wish her well as heads home to St Mary Mead with £20,000 in her current, not deposit, account intending to have some fun.

Recurring Character Development

Miss Marple

Reads the Daily Newsgiver at breakfast and saves The Times after her post-luncheon nap.

Has a “specially purchased, upright armchair which catered for the demands of her rheumatic back”.

Mr Schuster thinks she is nearer to eighty than seventy.

If successful in her commission from beyond the grave she would treat herself to things like a whole partridge, a box of marrons glacés, and a trip to the opera at Covent Garden.

Believes in some form of eternal life.

Has visited Blenheim twice before.

Had an aunt who was shipwrecked five times and a friend who was involved in four taxi accidents, three car accidents, and two railway accidents.

Signs of the Times

This story begins 15 or 16 months after “A Caribbean Mystery”.

“Call no man happy until he is dead” was attributed by Herodotus to Solon speaking to Croesus.

References to previous works

Just before Mr Rafiel’s death notice comes one for Race. I’m sure it is not a deliberate reference but why not believe this is Colonel Johnny Race?

Cherry Baker returns from “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side” and Miss Marple also thinks about her predecessor, Miss Knight.

Miss Marple stays at the St George but wishes that it were Bertram’s Hotel.

Contains a partial spoiler for “The Body in the Library”.

Elizabeth Temple was also a friend of Sir Henry Clithering.

4 thoughts on “#72 – Nemesis”

  1. Thanks for the review. I know that Nemesis is an imperfect book, but it is by far my favourite of the late Christie’s. The motive was interesting / unique, I had distaste and sympathy for the culprit at the same time and Miss Marple is in the story from start to finish. It sags a bit in the middle but this is the only end period Christie that I would want to re-read.

    As for the television adaptations, the Joan Hickson one stays faithful to the book. The Geraldine McEwan version changes the story and is unwatchable.

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  2. “Sporting old bean!”

    Lovely book, with its sidelights on current fashions (“Why do young women want to look like children?” Well-spotted, Miss Marple). I like the atmosphere of a tour of houses and gardens, and chumming up with unlikely people. The TV adaptation with Joan Hickson is a great film in itself. A nephew (Lionel) is dreamed up to accompany Miss Marple, but he is well-scripted and acted. His wife has chucked him out and he’s a bit adrift. Mr Rafiel’s son, only mentioned in the book, becomes a compelling and well-acted character. Miss Marple’s bodyguards are also expanded, and well portrayed by Alison Skilbeck and Jane Booker. My only quibble is that there isn’t a reed bed at the south end of Tower Bridge…

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    1. I haven’t seen the Joan Hickson version of this and am waiting until I have finished my complete re-reading. I have seen some of the more recent adaptation so was waiting for the nuns to turn up!

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