10 May 2010

Review: THE LISTERDALE MYSTERY, Agatha Christie

First published in 1934 by Collins
My edition an Agatha Christie Signature Edition 2003
ISBN 978-0-00-715488-3
317 pages

A collection of 12 short stories. The collection takes its title from the first story. Quite a number of the short stories had been published in magazines well before the collection was published.
The collection consists of
  • The Listerdale Mystery:
    First published in December 1925.
    Mrs St. Vincent, her son, and daughter, fell on hard times when her husband died. Life changes forever when she rents the house of the missing Lord Listerdale, for a peppercorn rent.
  • Philomel Cottage:
    First published in November 1924.
    Alix Martin had married late, and now, just a few weeks later, she is afraid of her husband.
  • The Girl in the Train:
    First published in February 1924.
    Arriving at work nearly three hours late spells catastrophe for George Rowland, and he suddenly finds himself unemployed. On his way by train to Rowland's Castle, he rescues a damsel in distress.
  • Sing a Song of Sixpence:
    First published in December, 1929.
    Sir Edward Palliser K.C. comes out of retirement to help a girl whom he barely knows.
  • The Manhood of Edward Robinson:
    First published in December 1924.
    Edward Robinson is a bit bored with life. A chance lottery win makes all the difference.
  • Accident:
    First published as The Uncrossed Path in September 1929.
    George Merrowdene has just insured his life in favour of his wife, but is she everything she seems? Inspector Evans is pretty sure she isn't.
  • Jane in Search of a Job:
    First published in August 1924
    Jane Cleveland can't pass up the chance to make a quick three thousand pounds.
  • A Fruitful Sunday:
    First published in August 1928.
    An unexpected find in a basket of cherries test Edward and Dorothy's sense of honesty.
  • Mr Eastwood's Adventure:
    First published as The Mystery of the Second Cucumber August 1924.
    When author Anthony Eastwood receives a mystery phone call he finds himself arrested for murder.
  • The Golden Ball:
    First published as Playing the Innocent in August 1929.
    George Dundas doesn't care too much for work. His uncle accuses him of failing to take up the golden ball of opportunity, and just then another presents itself.
  • The Rajah's Emerald:
    First published in July 1926.
    The little yellow book that James Bond is reading urges that there is a time for frankness and a time for discretion. " A strong man does not blurt out all he knows." James has a horrible suspicion that he doesn't have what it takes to be strong, but when the time comes he has an inner strength he never knew about.
  • Swan Song:
    First published in September 1926.
    An opera singer is presented with the chance to take the revenge she has wanted to exact all of her life.

This is a funny little collection of stories, some quite entertaining and others a bit pedestrian. 
If there is a theme that Christie is exploring then it is probably the nature of love. In The Listerdale Mystery, Philomel Cottage, and Accident, which I thought were best in the collection, she plays with the twist in the tale, the unexpected ending.

None of the stories has characters that we meet elsewhere (as far as I know).
My rating 4.2

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I think The Listerdale Mystery is my favorite in this collection. I really do like Philomel Cottage, too, though...

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