If you are just joining us, Agatha Christie is Author of the Month and I am going to try as many of her books as possible this month. Quite a daunting task considering there are over 70. So I am going to try and select ones I really love. A Caribbean Mystery is yet another Miss Marple story. Miss Marple is out of her usual habitat but still very capable as far as deciphering human nature is concerned.
Miss Marple is in a sunny Caribbean island courtesy of nephew Raymond West. She is staying at a small hotel run by a young couple who are being sufficiently solicitous. There is the usual hodge podge of guests. Major Palgrave is classified immediately as the Colonels, Majors, Captains etc. who have traveled in the East or in Africa and never lack stories of their glory days. There are two close knit couples, the Hillingdons and the Dysons, and it is hard to figure out who is married to whom. There is Mr. Rafiel, a cranky old rich gentleman who bosses his assistant and secretary and enjoys being rude. There is an elderly Canon with his sister. Most people are habitual vacationers and have been to the island several times in earlier years.
Miss Marple is dozing in her chair by the sea when Major Palgrave launches on a tale about a habitual murderer. Miss Marple tunes out but snaps awake when the Major actually starts pulling out a photograph of the murderer from his wallet. He suddenly sees someone suspicious and changes the topic. The next day, he is found dead! Miss Marple is highly suspicious and nudges the authorities toward foul play instead of natural causes. Meanwhile, Molly Kendal, the hostess, is behaving strangely. Like any good murder mystery, someone talks too much and is silenced. When a young local girl is found stabbed, there is a mass exodus from the island.
Miss Marple is bored by the sunny island weather that lacks variety. The murders make her sit up and she goes about talking to people in her usual twittering way. She finds an unlikely ally in Mr. Rafiel. Further investigation suggests that the murderer could very well be a woman, widening the field of investigation for Miss Marple.
A Caribbean Mystery is engaging and full of suspense, and there is no way you will guess who the culprit is. Miss Marple is not as much in her element as in The Mirror Crack’d, but she does avert disaster in the end.
A must read for all you Miss Marple and Agatha Christie fans.