When small-town gossip spreads as fast-and lethal-as venom, someone's bound to end up dead. And of course, they do. Calling Miss Marple...
Lymstock is a town with more than its share ofshameful secrets—a town where even a suddenoutbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only aminor stir.
But all that changes when one of the recipients,Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final notesays “I can’t go on,” but Miss Marple questions thecoroner’s verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure ofanyone—as secrets stop being shameful and startbecoming deadly.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
The classic theme here is the phenomenon of the Poison Pen. The book is one of her shorter mysteries but one of the most cunningly devised. Adept at constructing puzzles, she opts for presenting this one as a first person narrative. The narrator is a young man recuperating from a flying accident, told by his doctor that he must "go and live in the country and lead the life of a vegetable for at least six months". With his sister he rents a cottage in a small English village "of no importance whatsoever".
Accordingly, when the poison pen letters begin circulating, it is this narrator, a stranger to the village, who decribes things as he sees them, retails all the local gossip, and reports everyone's suspicions about the writer of the letters. A murder and an apparent suicide follow, and we read of the efforts of the local police to investigate.
Miss Marple thus is introduced late in the book and, of course, she proves better at solving the mystery than everybody else. You will be an astute and alert reader if you discover whodunit before Miss Marple reveals all.
As time passed there were more letters, more deaths and romances. A less skillful writer would have made a confused mess of all of the various threads but Christie keeps the focus on the mystery while maintaining the romance as an interesting subplot.
The story has worn well in the intervening fifty years. The only dated aspect is that women's lives were more restricted then. So why is this story an 'almost' 5? The problem is that Miss Marple arrives on the scene about 3/4 of the way through the book and then does very little. For Miss Marple fans this is not nearly enough of her. In my opinion Christie should have either brought her in sooner or left her out altogether.
Despite this THE MOVING FINGER is an excellent story and one of Christie's most memorable stories.