Jerry Burton, a pilot, and his sister Joanna move to the small village of Lymstock. The visit, which is to last some months, is undertaken for Jerry’s health. Recovering from a severe back injury, a result of his plane crash, he is advised by his doctor to take a break from stress and enjoy the relaxations of a small gossiping community. But Lymstock is hardly the place for a recovery when a few days after their move, the siblings receive a malicious anonymous letter; the letters have been going around the village for some time.
I loved the ironic humor with which Jerry and Joanna carried out their conversations. The inhabitants of Lymstock are gentle, simple people, and the humor with which Jerry and Joanna receive their comments made me laugh!
It’s the letters, sir. Wicked letters – indecent, too, using such words and all. Worse than I’ve ever seen in the Bible, even.’ says Mrs. Baker
Passing over an interesting side-line here, I said desperately…….
The ironic comedy ends the moment that the first anonymous letter hits home – a suicide occurs and all of a sudden the letters have taken on a more serious aspect. The first half of the book is occupied with finding out the identity of the letter-writer and in that search we become acquainted with an interesting assortment of characters. I especially liked Megan Hunter, Mrs. Symmington’s unwanted daughter, who had trouble fitting in and finding herself. She seems an awkward, overgrown child and the make-over scene is something to look forward too!
When the murder does come, it doesn’t hold center stage interest for me. Not because it wasn’t well written, but because I was more interested in the developing relations of Jerry and Joanna with the people in the village and how they settled in with life in a small village. I was also surprised to find Miss Marple coming in at the end to solve the crime. I had practically forgotten that she was in this novel because of the small role she plays. I would have liked it better if Jerry Burton had been the one to solve it (which he comes close to doing).
Mrs. Dane Calthrop also appears in this novel. I don’t know why, but her character always intrigues me. See my Agatha Christie page to read more on her and her husband.