Although The Moving Finger is touted as a Miss Marple mystery, I think that Jerry Burton is the true star of the story. Miss Marple hardly makes an appearance, and that too a very insipid one. Sort of like a clam chowder with too many potatoes and hardly any clams!
Jerry Burton is an ex pilot who was in a crash. He has been severaly injured and is convalescing in the village of Lymstock with his sister Joanna. Both of them are very urban and slightly older and sophisticated. As soon as they settle in, Jerry gets a nasty letter. So does Joanna. A Poison Pen is at work, and it seems that no one in the village has been spared.
There is a typical cast of characters. There is the vicar and his wife who is busy with her ‘activities’. The doctor is overworked and has a spinster sister who takes care of him. Symmington is the local lawyer who has a nervous wife and two boys. Megan is the step daughter and Elsie is the boys’ nurse. Then there is the spinster who has rented her house to the Burtons.
The Posion Pen is wreaking havoc in the village and Jerry Burton is tired of hearing the words ‘No smoke without Fire’. Mrs. Symmington is found dead from an overdose and everyone thinks it is suicide brought about by the Poison Pen. The investigation begins. Megan is always referred to as a child but she is actually almost twenty. She is neglected by everyone and leads a wasteful existence.
The mystery deepens when a maid in the Symmington household is found murdered. Jerry does some amateur sleuthing to help the police. The vicar’s wife calls in an expert, namely Miss Marple, who is mostly reduced to sitting in a corner knitting something. Does she provide any insight toward finding the culprit? Yes and No.
The Moving Finger is absorbing and complex, and it is almost certain you will not guess who the real killer is until the end. There are twists you don’t expect, but all ends are neatly tied before the book ends.
The Moving Finger is what I call a sleeper hit. I didn’t expect much from it when I started out, but it did surprise me pleasantly. This is another review in my Author of the Month series on Agatha Christie.