#74 – Postern of Fate

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford have just moved house and Tuppence is going through some old books when she finds that someone has underlined letters in a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Black Arrow” which spell out the message “Mary Jordan did not die naturally. It was one of us. I think I know which one”.

This is a good hook and comes at the end of the first chapter entitled “Mostly Concerning Books” which will resonate with any book lover.

However from thereon it is downhill all the way. Rambling conversation follows rambling conversation. Characters appear once and then never again.

Somehow all their new neighbours know about they did in the war. Tommy has to very pointedly remind Tuppence (and the reader) who Betty is. Tuppence says “It’s a crime we’ve got to solve. Go back to the past to solve it – to where it happened and why it happened. That’s a thing we’ve never tried before” which completely ignores “By The Pricking of My Thumbs” (it makes sense therefore that this is the only of their previous cases which is not mentioned).

I often add a separate spoiler post, but here this isn’t applicable as I couldn’t even tell you what was supposed to have happened!

There’s a (surely) unintended ironic criticism of the novel in the penultimate chapter:

“All those clues,” said Andrew. “You could make a story out of them – even a book.”

“Too many names, too complicated,” said Deborah. “Who’d read a book like that?”

“You’d be surprised,” said Tommy, “what people will read – and enjoy!”

This is another of the handful of late books that are for completists only. You’d be better off reading any of the books mentioned in the book than the book itself and the Christie estate would do well to cease publishing it immediately on the grounds that it is unrepresentative of the great lady’s work and could put a first time reader off for life.

Recurring Character Development

The Beresfords

They previously lived at Bartons Acre.

Their London house was bombed in their absence during WWII.

Tuppence had an Aunt Sarah.

Tuppence is over seventy.

Their daughter, Deborah’s, twins turn mentioned halfway through have metamorphosed into Andrew, fifteen, Janet, eleven, and Rosalie, seven, by the end of the book.

Albert

His wife , Amy, died some years ago.

Signs of the Times

Though there are contradictory references to when things happened in the past, for example when Tommy says that the events of “The Secret Adversary” were “…at least sixty of seventy years ago. More than that, even” when we know that was set in 1920, it seems most reasonable that the census relevant to the death of Mary Jordan was in 1911 and that the recent census “only last year, or was it the year before last” was in 1971. This idea of being able to get information on a historic crime because it happened at the time of a census is actually really good, although as Tommy says you would need to know the right people as the granular data is sealed for one hundred years.

Tuppence remembers reading “Androcles and the Lion” by Andrew Lang when she was eight. Lang (1844-1912) edited The Langs’ Fairy Books which comprised 25 volumes (1889-1913) and this particular tale was in The Animal Story Book (1896).

Tuppence refers to “Mrs Molesworth, The Cuckoo Clock, Four Winds Farm-” Mary Louisa Molesworth (1839-1921) has been called “the Jane Austen of the nursery”.

She also refers to “those stories about schools, where the children were always very rich – L. T. Meade, I think”. Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1844-1914) was primarily known for her books for young people such as “A World of Girls” (1886) but for fans of detection she is remembered for her work with Clifford Halifax and Robert Eustace.

Tuppence remembers Carter’s Little Liver Pills. This was a patent medicine invented in 1868 by Samuel J. Carter of Pennsylvania. “Liver” was taken out of the name in 1951 as the Federal Trade Commission said it was deceptive. A common saying was “He’s got more (fill in the blank) than Carter has Little Liver Pills”.

Tuppence refers to books by E. Nesbit including The Amulet (The Story of the Amulet – 1906) and The Psamayad (Five Children and It – 1902).

Beatrice refers to “the Marlborough House set”. This was the group of people associated with the future Edward VII when he lived there. 

References to previous works

Christie has already used the quote about the gates of Damascus in the Parker Pyne short story “The Gate of Baghdad”.

Mention is made of “the Jane Finn business” from “The Secret Adversary”, Mrs Blenkinsop and Sans Souci from “N or M” and also a spoiler for that book.

Tommy has heard rumours about the events of “Passenger to Frankfurt” which links together what are by far Christie’s worst two novels.

The 5 False Suicides (2021) by James Scott Byrnside

Gretta Grahame receives a disturbing phone call from her Uncle Scotty who informs her of his sister’s recent death from taking an overdose. This brings back uncomfortable memories for Gretta as that is how her mother also died. Scotty goes on to explain that his father put a curse on his own family and that thirteen members have died at their own hand leaving only the two of them alive. They arrange to meet but when Gretta goes to his hotel a few days later she finds that he is already dead, apparently having taken an overdose. 

In his final letter he tells Gretta to seek out Boroqe Risezak, the witch who helped grandfather Andrew, but who has now renounced his evil ways and will help her break the curse.

Gretta goes to visit Boroqe and he tells her that the curse can only be broken by visiting Heaven’s Gate, an island off the coast of Maine. So her murder-mystery book group accompany her for a weekend trip from which some of them will never return.

The opening chapter where we meet the MASONS (Murder-mystery Appreciation Society of New Sweden) is a delight as they discuss possible choices for their next read (Ngaio Marsh does not come out of this well although I agree with Gretta’s more positive view of “The Nursing Home Murders”) and then impossible crimes in general. Alice’s opinions on violence and gore are amusing given the author’s previous works are not short on horrific events, although they aren’t dwelt on, and this book is also no exception.

Not content with giving us a series of suicides that may be murders (or vice versa) JSB throws in a serial killer and the threat of wildfires. By about page 50 I knew I wasn’t going to bed until I’d finished so make sure you set aside a suitable time to read this in one sitting as once you’ve started you won’t want to stop.

The title is a clear nod to John Dickson Carr, which shows a great deal of confidence, but the final section of the book shows that it is well-placed. This is a brilliant homage to the Golden Age of Detection but done in JSB’s own distinctive style. 

Review of 2021

It’s been a year in which I’ve read over one hundred books and yet the size of my TBR pile has hardly changed. My personal reading highlights can be summarised as follows:

Favourite New Author: Erle Stanley Gardner – a couple of years ago I read “The Case of the Borrowed Brunette” and found it merely OK. In the summer I picked up a couple more Perry Masons as they were Green Penguins and found that “The Case of the Lame Canary” was much better. So a couple of months later I bought a Penguin job lot since when I’ve gone through “The Case of the Howling Dog”, “The Case of the Counterfeit Eye”, and “The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat”. It’s not always clear at first what the real mystery is, and it is certainly not obvious a lot of the time why Perry does what he does, but they are a great ride, and everything comes together in the final court showdown.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Rupert Penny – I’d previously read “Sealed Room Murder” and “The Lucky Policeman” and decided to use birthday money to pick up the remaining six books by this author. The acrostic in “Policeman’s Holiday” is a genius idea and executed wonderfully and the subtle simplicity of the locked room solution in “Policeman’s Evidence” is brilliant.

Biggest Disappointment: Max Murray – His first book “The Voice of the Corpse” was a January read and was an early contender for book of the year, and having remembered seeing some positive review of his books I bought a set of four. “No Duty on a Corpse” has characters who just acted in ways that made no sense to me and uses an element that you shouldn’t even re-use in a short story. “The Right Honourable Corpse” was OK but nothing special. “Royal Bed for a Corpse” had a promising first chapter and then descended into a weird spy tale and “Twilight at Dawn” wasn’t even a mystery. I realised too late that I hadn’t seen reviews for these particular but even when I did get hold of “The King and the Corpse” and “The Sunshine Corpse” as Green Penguins, they came nowhere close to his brilliant debut work.

Funniest Book: The Locked Room by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö this is quite a surprise given I read quite a few books by Edmund Crispin this year, but the whole tone of the book is comedic. This is the eighth in a series of ten about Martin Beck, who is a very serious policeman: a locked room mystery is just not supposed to be the type of thing that comes his way and yet it does. The solution, which was new to me when I first read it over ten years fits with the rest of the book and the scene where the police break into a different locked apartment believed to be the hiding place of two armed men is complete slapstick and completely irreverent given what happened to Martin Beck at the end of the previous novel.

Most Shocking Moment: The Opening Night Murders by James Scott Byrnside –  my favourite of his three books to date, with a well-clued but still impenetrable method, before we get to the final reveal there is a moment that comes straight out of left-field which had me going back a few pages thinking “did that really just happen” – if you’ve read it, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.

Best Weekend of the Year: The International Agatha Christie Festival – I’d been aware of this in previous years and because Bodies from the Library was unfortunately moved online, I decided to treat myself to a trip to Torquay instead. It was great to here some interesting talks but even better after a year of lockdown and social distancing to meet and spend time with those who had just been Facebook acquaintances. The icing on the cake was winning a quarter share in a copy of the world’s fattest book – this edition of the Complete Miss Marple.

Most Anticipated Book of 2022: The Five False Suicides by James Scott Byrnside – Despite having seen many recommendations over the last few years, I only started on JSB this January and then read a book a month until March and was then “I want more of this sort of thing” and then realised that for the first time since I was buying the “Redwall” books by Brian Jacques in the 1990s that I would have to wait for a real life writer to finish writing a new book before I could buy it! Honourable mention goes to “Death and the Conjuror” by Tom Mead from the GAD Facebook group.

Best Short Story Award: The Absent Minded Coterie by Robert Barr – I’d read this before in an anthology and came across it again in “The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont”. The lead character likes to think of himself as a great detective in the Holmes model but whilst capable of great things, is not always complete successful. Here he deals with a crime that is not really a crime at all.

Best Novel Award: Death Among the Undead by Masahiro Imamura – whilst I enjoyed all the books mentioned above, along with scores of others, this horror-locked room mash-up with its innovative solution which depends completely upon the central premise of the book takes the crown. My original review can be found here.

Thanks for reading and commenting during 2021 and I hope 2022 is an improvement for us all.

#73 – Elephants Can Remember

“Did her mother kill her father or was it the father who killed the mother?”

This is the most inappropriate question that Ariadne Oliver is asked at a literary luncheon about her god-daughter’s parents. The questioner, Mrs Burton-Cox, is concerned about the heredity of her son’s intended, Celia Ravenscroft. Fourteen years ago, General and Lady Ravenscroft died in what the police could only conclude, despite a lack of motive, was a double-suicide or a murder-suicide but which of them actually pulled the trigger was unclear.

So with the help of Hercule Poirot she probes the memories of old friends and acquaintances to gather sufficient information that the wheat may be sifted from the chaff and the truth might appear.

The premise is a good one as is the solution and it would make a good Miss Marple short story – I can just imagine her saying the key phrase – but as a novel the rest is just padding as conversations are had and recalled, some meetings aren’t described, with Mrs Oliver pouring forth more mixed recollections. One chapter is titled “Poirot Announces Departure” which doesn’t make any sense. Towards the end he meets Maddy and Zélie when there is no need for Maddy at all.

This was the final Poirot book to be written, and unlike “Nemesis” which gave Miss Marple a good send-off, this is not a satisfactory end to his career but (fortunately?) we still have “Curtain” to come.

Recurring Character Development

Hercule Poirot

Miss Lemon is still his secretary.

Mrs Oliver

Has tried many hairstyles and owns four hats to suit different occasions.

Has false teeth.

Was planning to write a story about a golden retriever but as it wasn’t going well decided to look into this cold case instead.

Miss Livingstone has replaced the previously unmentioned Miss Sedgwick as her assistant.

Once lived at Sealy House.

Her husband died years ago.

Signs of the Times

The story is set in 1972 (as 1971’s address book is last year’s) but Poirot says they’ve known each other for about twenty years which makes no sense given they met in “Cards on the Table” which was set in 1937 (or maybe 1936).

Mrs Oliver takes Nanny Matcham a tin of her favourite Tophole Thathams tea which sounds a plausible brand but I can find no record of it online.

Poirot says “I am like the animal or the child in one of your stories by Mr Kipling. I Suffer from Insatiable Curiosity.” This is appropriate as it was the Elephant’s Child who suffered from this complaint in the Just So Stories and was the reason it got its trunk.

References to previous works

Poirot investigated a definite historical murder in “Five Little Pigs” and and the vague possibility of a cold case in “Hallowe’en Party” and these are mentioned here with spoilers of varying degrees. Mention is also made of “Mrs McGinty’s Dead”. In all three instances, the case alluded to is named in a footnote, which does not occur in any of the earlier books where no allusions are clarified, except sometimes in the text itself.

#73 – Elephants Can Remember – WITH SPOILERS

“Did her mother kill her father or was it the father who killed the mother?”

This is the most inappropriate question that Ariadne Oliver is asked at a literary luncheon about her god-daughter’s parents. The questioner, Mrs Burton-Cox, is concerned about the heredity of her son’s intended, Celia Ravenscroft. Fourteen years ago, General and Lady Ravenscroft died in what the police could only conclude, despite a lack of motive, was a double-suicide or a murder-suicide but which of them actually pulled the trigger was unclear.

So with the help of Hercule Poirot she probes the memories of old friends and acquaintances to gather sufficient information that the wheat may be sifted from the chaff and the truth might appear.

The premise is a good one as is the solution and it would make a good Miss Marple short story – I can just imagine her saying the key phrase – but as a novel the rest is just padding as conversations are had and recalled, some meetings aren’t described, with Mrs Oliver pouring forth more mixed recollections. One chapter is titled “Poirot Announces Departure” which doesn’t make any sense. Towards the end he meets Maddy and Zélie when there is no need for Maddy at all.

This was the final Poirot book to be written, and unlike “Nemesis” which gave Miss Marple a good send-off, this is not a satisfactory end to his career but (fortunately?) we still have “Curtain” to come.

Recurring Character Development

Hercule Poirot

Miss Lemon is still his secretary.

Mrs Oliver

Has tried many hairstyles and owns four hats to suit different occasions.

Has false teeth.

Was planning to write a story about a golden retriever but as it wasn’t going well decided to look into this cold case instead.

Miss Livingstone has replaced the previously unmentioned Miss Sedgwick as her assistant.

Once lived at Sealy House.

Her husband died years ago.

Signs of the Times

The story is set in 1972 (as 1971’s address book is last year’s) but Poirot says they’ve known each other for about twenty years which makes no sense given they met in “Cards on the Table” which was set in 1937 (or maybe 1936).

Mrs Oliver takes Nanny Matcham a tin of her favourite Tophole Thathams tea which sounds a plausible brand but I can find no record of it online.

Poirot says “I am like the animal or the child in one of your stories by Mr Kipling. I Suffer from Insatiable Curiosity.” This is appropriate as it was the Elephant’s Child who suffered from this complaint in the Just So Stories and was the reason it got its trunk.

References to previous works

Poirot investigated a definite historical murder in “Five Little Pigs” and and the vague possibility of a cold case in “Hallowe’en Party” and these are mentioned here with spoilers of varying degrees. Mention is also made of “Mrs McGinty’s Dead”. In all three instances, the case alluded to is named in a footnote, which does not occur in any of the earlier books where no allusions are clarified, except sometimes in the text itself.

SPOILERS

Underneath all the verbiage there is a great tragedy and maybe it would work psychologically if set pre-WWII and the Ravenscrofts had had no children.  But would Zélie really work with the General to leave two children orphaned and believing that one parent had killed the other? I don’t think so. At least Dolly doesn’t get the chance to offer someone a glass of warm milk.

Reprint of the Year 2021: Hare Sitting Up (1959) by Michael Innes

Howard Juniper, a top government scientist has gone missing, and so has something that shouldn’t have left the locked refrigerator in his laboratory. Sir John Appleby is put in charge of retrieving both man and biological sample and his first action is to go to Splaine Croft School to persuade Howard’s twin Miles to buy him time by impersonating his brother, as he used to do at Cambridge University.

Having done that Appleby can get on with the business of tracing Howard, but has been kidnapped, defected or even driven mad by the strain of his work and its implications for humanity? And which of these would be worse?

Despite containing an excellent verbal clue, this is definitely on the thriller side of Innes’ output and by no means really a reprint of the year but due to the size of my TBR pile I don’t actually read that many books in the year in which they come out, so this is really a reminder to you to buy some more Innes (any of his first four Appleby books is first class and “There Came Both Mist and Snow” is appropriate for the Christmas season) so that hopefully Agora Books reprint the next titles in the series and I can continue my collection!

The Queens’ Christmas Message – Part Two

January 1905: A man stubbornly drives home through a blizzard. The inevitable crash seriously injures his wife who goes into premature labour. A son is born but she dies giving birth to a second. The furious man takes his first-born home, leaving the other in the care of the childless doctor and his wife, and shortly after dies from his head injury.

December 1929: Ellery Queen, minor celebrity on the back of the success of “The Roman Hat Mystery”, is invited by aforementioned first-born John Sebastian to a Christmas houseparty. Twelve guests, each born under a different sign of the zodiac, there to stay for twelve nights, after which four significant events will take place in John’s life.

The mysteries soon begin: Christmas Day sees an anonymous Santa Claus arrive to distribute the presents and that evening John receives an extra present consisting of an ox, a house, and a camel. On Boxing Day a stabbed man is discovered in the library (where else?) and that night John receives a second gift.

I had been given vague warnings about this book but a Christmas mystery with a cold case element was still too tempting. And apart from the length – a sequence of twelve presents is too many, too many days where not a lot happens – I quite enjoyed it, until I started to think a little about the solution and realised that it just didn’t really make sense – at least not if you’re going to have the first murder and that is necessary because you have to have something to keep everyone there for the twelve days under the eyes of the police.

Ellery’s back story is unnecessarily re-written. Yes, the information contained in the J. J. McC Forewords was jettisoned a long time before this, but here it clearly states that Roman Hat was Ellery’s first case and this was his second, when The Greek Coffin Mystery clearly precedes Roman Hat for a very important reason which is explained in that book.

There is a lack of deduction until the final explanation, and whilst the midpoint reveal surprised me, it did not do so for long.

As Ellery himself does during the course of the twelve days, you’d be better off reading “The Poisoned Chocolates Case” by Anthony Berkeley.

Reprint of the Year 2021: The Plague Court Murders (1935) by John Dickson Carr

First things first, some of you may be thinking “but this is a Carter Dickson book”, and you’d be right, but if you are going to try to attract new people to the genre it makes no sense to say “if you like John Dickson Carr you may also like Carter Dickson – why’s that then? – well because they’re actually the same person”.  There may sometimes be good reasons to keep a known pseudonym going e.g. when a writer uses them for different genres, but given Carter Dickson was hardly the most secretive alias in the first place, it does seem pointless to try to keep it going.  Anyway, onto the mystery itself.

“What kind of hell-bound thing is it that can walk out a front door, round through a muddy yard without leaving footprints; can kill a man in a stone jug of a house and return here by the back door, and pass through candlelight without being seen?”

Narrator Ken Blake is asked by his friend Dean Halliday to spend the night at a haunted house and if possible to  bring a friend who knows about mediumistic chicanery. So Ken invites Chief Inspector Humphrey Masters, noted debunker of the supernatural, along for the ride.

The house in question is Plague Court, said to be haunted by Louis Playge, a seventeenth century hangman’s toady, and his knife has that very day been stolen from the London Museum.

Detective Sergeant McDonnell is investigating both the theft and Roger Darworth, psychic researcher, who is in charge of proceedings at Plague Court. But not even two policeman can prevent the locked-room murder which occurs that night and it baffles them so much that they have to call in Sir Henry Merrivale, for his first appearance in print.

Merrivale is legally and medically qualified and has the brain, physique, and laziness of Mycroft Holmes, with whom he shares membership of the Diogenes Club. He is the only man for the job, especially when the titular second murder occurs.

You can’t really vote for this as the reprint of the year if you’ve never read it, so if you haven’t already, get yourself a copy, have a read and then come back here to discuss it further.

Scroll down for spoilers

 

 

 

 

 

I love the method in this one very much – the significance of the stolen dagger is not that it once belonged to Louis Playge but its unusual shape. This fits with the linking of items by Chesterton in “The Perishing of the Pendragons” when Father Brown says “Put a feather with a fossil and a bit of coral and everyone will think it’s a specimen. Put the same feather with a ribbon and an artificial flower and everyone will think it’s for a lady’s hat. Put the same feather with an ink-bottle, a book and a stack of writing -paper, and most men will swear they’ve seen a quill pen.” Here loads of blood, plus circular wounds, plus odd dagger means that most people will assume that he has been stabbed; the idea that he might have been shot does not cross our minds.

H.M. is a little naughty when he warns the others not to taste the white powder so that they can’t tell that it’s salt and therefore give them a pointer to the solution – the inference being that it is a poison or drug of some sort – but he doesn’t actually lie to them. Indeed more detectives would do well to follow his advice as you really don’t want to lick you finger and dip it into an unknown, possibly deadly substance, which happens a number of times in GAD without the sleuth suffering any ill effects.

The identity of the murderer is also brilliant as Carr has earlier gone meta when H.M. says “What’re you insinuatin’, son. That the woman came over and murdered Darworth for his money? Tut, tut. That’s not fair detective fiction, to go and dump down a mere name, somebody we haven’t seen and that ain’t connected with the business.”

“Till Death Do Us Part” was reprinted by the British Library this year but was made unavailable for selection as it was thought likely to win by a landslide – so what better way to honour Carr than by voting for another of his superb books!

UPDATE: Sorry, I didn’t read all my emails. “Till Death Do Us Part” was put back into contention (and will now win by a landslide – get down to your bookmaker is my advice) – so what better way to honour Carr than by making sure he takes silver as well as gold!

The Queens’ Christmas Message – Part One

A schoolteacher is killed, beheaded and nailed to a signpost on Christmas Day in a small town in West Virginia. The circumstances intrigue Ellery Queen sufficiently to take a look but although a bizarre case there isn’t a lot for him to work with. He returns to New York where his father tells him:

“The moral is: Murder is murder, and ninety-nine and nine-tenths per cent of the murders committed anywhere on the face of the globe, you young idiot, are as easy as pie to explain. Nothing fancy, you understand.”

Inspector Queen couldn’t be more wrong, although it isn’t until the following summer that a second decapitated corpse turns up, this time tied to a totem post, but unmistakably once more in the T-shape of the Egyptian Cross. Who will be the next target of this brutal killer and can Ellery prevent them fulfilling their mad plan?

Despite the first murder taking place at Christmas and the cover of this edition, this is not a Christmas mystery, but I’d already decided on the title of this pair of posts, so tough. Also, despite some of the more lurid covers of the 1970s, it’s only a little bit more a mystery about nudists, so you may be disappointed on a number of levels!

It is however classic first period Queen. Ellery starts with a nice deduction about a pipe shaped in the form of Neptune which starts to unlock the case and later discourses on the precise significance of the draughts piece held in the hand of one of the victims to prove that why something that seems so obvious must be the truth.

I spotted the murderer for once, possibly for the wrong reason, but did not follow that through to explain everything that had been going on. Having read no Queen for some time, it will be two in a month – come back soon for Part Two and see what I make of The Finishing Stroke, which I believe is definitely Christmassy.

#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.