28 May 2023

Review: MRS McGINTY'S DEAD, Agatha Christie

  • This edition available from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0046RE5EK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (October 14, 2010)
  •  Print length ‏ : ‎ 289 pages
  •  Originally published 1952,aka BLOOD WILL TELL
  • My previous review (2012)

Synopsis (Amazon)

An old widow is brutally killed in the parlour of her cottage…

Mrs McGinty died from a brutal blow to the back of her head. Suspicion fell immediately on her shifty lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes revealed traces of the victim’s blood and hair. Yet something was amiss: Bentley just didn’t look like a murderer.

Poirot believed he could save the man from the gallows – what he didn’t realise was that his own life was now in great danger…

My Take

First published in 1952, the novel was adapted by MGM in 1964, and released as 'Murder Most Foul'. The character of Hercule Poirot was replaced by Jane Marple, played by Margaret Rutherford. In 2008 David Suchet starred as Poirt and Zoë Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver in the ITV production.

After our discussion we will watch the David Suchet ITV production.

I am re-reading this for my U3A Agatha Christie Group, so the main feature of this review are the discussion questions I have written.

  • Who is the narrator? 
  • The book opens with Poirot reflecting on his previous investigations and the role that his good friend Hastings played in them as "the  stooge". What do you understand that to mean?
  • Why does Superintendent Spence come to Poirot?
  • Even though James Bentley has been convicted of the murder by a jury why does he doubt that he is guilty?
  • There seem to be conflicting descriptions of Bentley. He is said to have the mind of a 12 year old, to be a bit screwy, to be shy and awkward, daft, lacking in confidence, although others said he was educated. Which do you think is correct? Could he plead insanity?
  • Poirot contrasts himself with Inspector Spence. "he is a good and painstaking police officer.... But it should be different for me" Why? What disappoints him?
  • What was the significance of Mrs McGinty buying a bottle of ink?
  • Why did Mrs McGinty cut the picture out of the Sunday Comet? 
  • An interesting phrase: from him she takes the Greenwich time - what does it mean? (Shelagh Rendell is looking at her husband)
  • Why does Christie bring Mrs Oliver into the story?
  • What did her employers have to say about Mrs McGinty? There were a number of reasons why people disliked her.
  • An interesting comment on the effects of World War II on English communities:
    the war has complicated things. Records destroyed—endless opportunities for people who
    want to cover their traces doing so by means of other people’s identity cards, etc., especially after “incidents” when nobody could know which corpse was which! If we could concentrate on just one lot, but you’ve got so many possibles, M. Poirot.
    This is a comment that Christie has made elsewhere. What does it mean? What effect does it have on an investigation?
  • Who attempted to push Poirot under the train?
  • What is the irony of Mrs Upward ringing 3 women to come to visit her? What did she think she knew? What did she intend to do with her knowledge?
  • In the last pages Poirot gets the remaining characters together and says he knows what the motive for the murders was - money. Was he right? Can you explain the plot?
  • Why did Maude Williams get involved?
  • How was the identity of the murderer finally discovered?  
 I think this is an easy novel to underestimate. In fact the plot is quite complex. And there are comments about the social and economic effects of World War II that are valuable.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin