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8 February 2010
Crime Fiction Alphabet: Q is for Mr Harley Quin
I've cheated a bit here in this contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet because I am featuring a character, rather than an author or specific title, although in fact the main book Mr Quin appears is actually a collection of short stories called THE MYSTERIOUS MR QUIN.
It is a short story collection written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by William Collins Sons 1930 and in the US later in the same year. My review and a list of the short stories is here.
In the character of Mr Harley Quin Agatha Christie is dabbling in the paranormal. Mr Quin appears and disappears rather like the Cheshire cat. Mr Quinn works mainly with Mr. Satterthwaite, although Mr Satterthwaite does appear in some stories and at least one novel on his own.
I love this image to the right of the original cover (1930) design.
The blurb on the original edition reads
"Mr. Satterthwaite is a dried-up elderly little man who has never known romance or adventure himself. He is a looker-on at life. But he feels an increasing desire to play a part in the drama of other people – especially is he drawn to mysteries of unsolved crime. And here he has a helper – the mysterious Mr. Quin – the man who appears from nowhere - who ‘comes and goes’ like the invisible Harlequin of old. Who is Mr Quin? No one knows, but he is one who ‘speaks for the dead who cannot speak for themselves,’ and he is also the friend of lovers. Prompted by his mystic influence, Mr. Satterthwaite plays a real part in life at last, and unravels mysteries that seem incapable of solution. In Mr. Quin Agatha Christie has created a character as fascinating as Hercule Poirot himself."
Quirks and Kinks, Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist said
Agatha Christie had more than one quirky character in her novels. One of the oddest is Mr. Harley Quinn. Quinn seems to appear out of nowhere and then disappear just as mysteriously. He seems to be almost supernatural, and he’s often got clues to the mystery. Do follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to see what else Margot has to say.
Consult Wikipedia for more.