#79 – Problem at Pollensa Bay

Published in 1991 in the UK only (as the contents had all previously been included in American anthologies) this collection was the first “new” Agatha Christie for thirteen years. The eight stories are:

Problem at Pollensa Bay – Parker Pyne is on the homeward leg of his trip abroad detailed in the second half of “Parker Pyne Investigates” where he operated more as a general problem solver rather than a provider of happiness but he returns to his day job here and in so doing illustrates why, although I enjoy his first six cases very much, there was a limit to the possibilities of that type of story as it is very obvious what is going on. Although his first initial is given as “J” in earlier stories, he has inexplicably signed the hotel register as “C. Parker Pyne”.

The Second Gong – Poirot arrives late for dinner to find his host already dead. This was expanded into “Dead Man’s Mirror” included in “Murder in the Mews”.

Yellow Iris – Poirot is summoned to a matter of life or death at the Jardin des Cygnes but when he arrives at the restaurant finds that no one will take responsibility for the telephone call. And then a young woman dies… The basic elements here were later used in “Sparkling Cyanide” but the murderer and method used are different.

The Harlequin Tea Set – this is set “a large number of years” after the stories collected in “The Mysterious Mr Quin”. According to Wikipedia no original publication date has been found although it was anthologised in “Winter’s Crimes 3” where all stories are described as “new” on the front cover. Based on the ages of characters mentioned, I think this has to be set post-WWII which would make Mr Satterthwaite as impossibly old as Hercule Poirot. The story itself is daft as the person with criminous intentions has already achieved their aim and what they then attempt to do is completely unnecessary.

The Regatta Mystery – a young man is unhappy as he is the only person who could have a stolen a diamond and so he consults Parker Pyne. This was originally a Poirot story but the sleuth was changed before being included in the US collection “The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories”.

The Love Detectives – Mr Satterthwaite with the assistance of Mr Quin has to save a pair of lovers from a cunning plot. Colonel Melrose is the Chief Constable so this story takes place in the same county as “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” and The Secret of Chimneys”. This was originally published in 1926 and was presumably not included in 1930’s “The Mysterious Mr Quin” as Christie was re-working the central ideas into a novel at the time.

Next to a Dog  – a non-mystery for dog lovers only.

Magnolia Blossom – a non-mystery in which a woman must choose between love and duty. 

Although fans would have been excited to have access to some “new” Parker Pyne and Mr Quin stories, I’m sure they’d have been a bit disappointed because none of these stories is memorable.


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