Life has passed Mr. Satterthwaite by, something he regrets every day. But being just an observer has given him a certain skill – the skill to feel when a human drama is at hand. His experience has enabled him to sense the tension in the air, the unique commingling of events that forebodes some crisis. In all these short stories, Mr. Satterthwaite enters at the important moment. But although he can see it, it is the appearance of Mr. Quin that focuses his judgement. Adroitely yet subtly, Mr. Quin just comes and goes; he has the magical touch of drawing out what we all know – the facts – and guides those present, in each of these stories, towards solving the mystery.
Description of Mr. Satterthwaite in The Coming of Mr Quin, the opening short story,
Mr Satterthwaite was sixty-two – a little bent, dried-up man with a peering face oddly elflike, and an intense and inordinate interest in other people’s lives. All his life, so to speak, he had sat in the front row of the stalls watching various dramas of human nature unfold before him. His role had always been that of the onlooker. Only now, with old age holding him in its clutch, he found himself increasingly critical of the drama submitted to him. He demanded something a little out of the common.
There was no doubt he had a flair for these things. He knew instinctively when the elements of drama were at hand. Like a war horse, he sniffed the scent.
and Mr Quin,
This was Mr Quin’s doing. It was he who was staging the play – was giving the actors their cues. He was at the heart of the mystery, pulling the strings, making the puppets work. He knew everything…
Besides the mysterious main character, I love this book for the various insights Agatha shows into characters through Mr. Satterthwaite. He has the gift of reading character and I find the medley of human being in her novels rather interesting.
I finished this book so fast because I couldn’t put it down and on the other hand, I wanted to savour each and every case, every word so I often went back to re-read a page. Torn between two opposites, I sat up until after midnight finishing the book!