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Moving Finger [Mass Market Paperback]

Agatha Christie
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 2 2010 Miss Marple (Book 4)
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...

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Product Description


'Beyond all doubt the puzzle in The Moving Finger is fit for experts.' The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Marple is knitting her charm June 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The interest of this small detective story is not where we could think it should be. Miss Marple solves the problem in a very holmesian way : don't look for what is obvious but look for what is hidden by the smokescreen of the obvious. But the book reveals, describes and analyzes the reactions of a village and of the people in the village who are confronted to a series of anonymous letters. It shows how gossiping dominates and informs the minds of the people. It shows how these minds can be totally governed by old fears, perverse curiosity and jealousy in a way or another. It shows how idleness due to the lack of eventful developments in a village manages the life of people : when nothing happens in your village, the slightest little piece of news or observation of your neighbour becomes an essential topic. A criminal, here a murderer, can then use this functioning to build a smokescreen that will hide his own crime and send everyone, including the police, on a wrong track because they are going to follow the obvious and the obvious is what you can see, and when there is a smokescreen you can only see the smoke. It is well done, though regular readers of detective stories will know the solution practically from the very start. This genre is aging rather fast because it has developed so much that it has enlarged the ability of the readers to see the strings of the plot, even when these strings are covered with a smokescreen, and Agatha Christie is a real artist at leading us astray, if we just let ourselves be led, which is in a way an essential quality in a « good » reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cosy village atmosphere and characters Nov. 19 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
In a forward Agatha Christie provided for a reprint of this book, she wrote of the pleasure it was to tackle one of the classic themes, and of the great pleasure she found in writing this book with its "cosy village atmosphere and characters".
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars almost a 5 April 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The narrator of the 1942 story is Jerry Burton, an RAF pilot who was sent to recuperate from a crash in a quiet environment. Jerry and his sister Johanna moved to an out of the way little village but soon found that life there would be anything but peaceful. The first unsettling event was the arrival of a poison pen letter, an occurance that made them part of the village. Most of the rest of the town had gotten one already. Just as they were getting acquainted with their neighbors there was a suicide, or was it murder?
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Christie Mystery! March 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read almost all of Christie's books at one point 4 or 5 years ago. One of the last I hit upon was "The Moving Finger", and it turned out to be my favorite Christie mystery. I loved the main narrator - Jerry Burton; his neurosis, wit, simplistic arrogance and ultimately good heart were so novel to me, especially in a murder mystery. He was a breath of fresh air from the likes of Miss Marple and Poirot.
These many years later, I picked up the title again to see what I thought. I see now that the narrator reminds me in some ways of Grimes' main characters for her murder mysteries - intelligent, reserved, seemingly aloof, somewhat cynical, and ultimately kind bachelors written by females authors. Apparently I find this character irresistable as I love all of Grimes' work.
However, in going back and rereading some Grimes and some Christie, I am noticing how different their styles are. While I read Grimes' books the first time only 2 or 3 years ago, I find I can't remember the solution to her mysteries when I reread them because she buries her clues below a rich surface of character development. Christie, on the other hand, doesn't ever wander far from her murder mystery plot - no matter how much she may twist and turn it; and as soon as I started into this book I thought, "Oh, ______ did it". Even so, I enjoyed reading this little gem again.
That all said, in addition to having a neurotic narrator - which you may or may not enjoy - this mystery focuses on the reactions in a small country village as racy anonymous letters are received by everyone in town. Jerry Burton, the narrator, and his sister arrive from London for some needed R&R right about when these letters start becoming known and so are drawn in to the town's little scandal.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A charming countryside gossip novel, but as a mystery, a bit lacking
Christie seems to have been dividing her pagecount between the mystery components and a smalltown gossip story, resulting in it sometimes being tricky to hold onto the clues --... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Kei Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars No smoke without fire!
No smoke without fire! It's the smoke(screen), I mean the anonymous letters, that blocked my eyes. I fixed the culprit as Megan. Read more
Published on March 5 2008 by Juran Liu
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moving Finger- A pretty good book
I thought this book was pretty good. I had the audio book and I did not really like the reader. She was a little hard to understand. I love murder mysteries. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2004 by Kara
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Dame Agatha's personal favorites (and mine!)
"The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of... Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Miss Marple cannot save the story
Written during the long wartime nights in London, only stopped by the frequent bombing raids, The Moving Finger (1943) is Agatha Christie's 42nd novel. ..."Rather to my surprise... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2002 by Geert Daelemans
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie's Psychology of Evil
In addition to the delights one gleams from Christie's deft, skillful plotting, incisive wit, and rich characterizations, the true strength of "The Moving Finger" is Christie's... Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2002 by cdset
3.0 out of 5 stars Great as a mystery, but I think there's a little hiccup
When Jerry Burton was ordered to find a restful place to recover from injuries from flying, Lymstock seemed to be just what the doctor ordered - a little village which had been... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2002 by snowy
5.0 out of 5 stars Malicious Mail, Murder, Mayhem, and Miss Marple
This story is told by Jerry Burton, an RAF flyer recovering from a crash. He has been sent to the village of Lymstock to get rest and quiet. Read more
Published on March 14 2001 by Antoinette Klein
4.0 out of 5 stars A favorite read and reread!
Miss Marple is NOT a key figure in this story. She only comes in at the end. So if you were expecting one where she takes center stage, think again. Read more
Published on Dec 5 2000
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