I am having a great time revisiting some of my favorite Agatha Christie books as part of our Author of the Month series. So far we have seen one Hercule Poirot book and several by Miss Marple. It is good that I am reading Nemesis after A Caribbean Mystery, because it can be called a sequel. Well, it is not a sequel in the true sense of the word, but one of the characters, that of Mr. Rafiel is carried forward in this book in a strange and unexpected way.
Miss Marple reads about Mr.Rafiel’s demise in the paper and then receives a strange missive from him. It is as if he is reaching out to her from another world. If she accepts an assignment and solves it within a year, she will be awarded twenty thousand pounds. The exact details of the assignment are not disclosed – only that Miss Marple is to right a previous wrong. The whole thing is enticing enough for her and she accepts. Then she is sent on a paid tour of Homes and Gardens where she might get some clues.
The tour coach has different types of people. A few spinster ladies, one overbearing woman who orders her niece about, a young man, an architect, a retired head mistress and so on. Miss Marple strikes up an acquaintance with the headmistress. By sheer force of small talk with various people, she learns that a girl has been found brutally murdered. She believes she is getting closer to her actual assignment.
The coach tour halts at a small village with some difficult walks nearby. Miss Marple is invited into the home of three ladies who had been friends of Mr. Rafiel. They had been advised to offer hospitality to Miss Marple. She concedes and goes to their run down home. The whole three sisters theme suggests something intangible to her. Actually, this reminded me of another Agatha Christie book, The Pale Horse, that also has the characters of three sisters. Back to our story!
One of the sisters is a widow, one is quite strong and commanding, and the third appears a bit touched in the head. It is clear that someone was wrongly accused of the death of a young girl, and it is Miss Marple’s job as ‘Nemesis’ to unearth the old case and make sure justice is served correctly. The rest of the book is a fun ride for mystery lovers as Miss Marple moves at a leisurely pace to unmask the culprit.
This book is probably written in later years and has some explicit language that may not be found in other Agatha Christie books. The word ‘sex’ is actually mentioned. One thing is for sure. Human nature has not changed a lot in the last 70-80 years. But maybe we have moved away from being human?
Be sure to read Nemesis, another Miss Marple adventure from Agatha Christie.