With all the snow and ice around I felt in need of some cosy comfort reading with an added ingredient – sunshine. I may have been sitting in snowy Birmingham feeling very chilled indeed, but my mind at least was transported to the much pleasanter surroundings of a Caribbean island.
As so often is the case with these old Agatha Christie novels – I was fairly sure I had forgotten “whodunit” however as the book progressed I did guess who the culprit was – so I wasn’t sure if I had just been clever or whether I was remembering something. It might seem strange to choose to re-read a mystery story – but I think there is something about the nostalgic and cosy nature of Agatha Christie that is perfect for re-reading. Curling up with favourite characters is always comforting – after all you know where you are with Miss Marple.
In ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ Miss Marple is enjoying a well-earned rest on the Caribbean island of St. Honore – although finding things maybe just a little too quiet. One day Miss Marple is sat talking to another guest at the hotel Major Palgrave. Poor old Major Palgrave is something of a bore – rattling on endlessly he tells the same stories over and over to anyone who has his attention for a short time. As Major Palgrave talks about his years in India, Miss Marple finds her attention wandering; she’s not really listening, as the Major switches stories to talk about murder. The Major reaches into his wallet to show Miss Marple a picture of a murderer but is interrupted. Suddenly the Major has changed the subject – and the following day he is dead.
Good old Miss Marple – she is soon on the case – she knows when something isn’t right. More deaths occur – one is rarely enough for Mrs Christie – and the redoubtable Miss Marple in cahoots with the wealthy Mr Rafiel sets out to discover the truth about her fellow hotel guests.
There have been over the years many differing TV adaptations of Miss Marple stories. I have to say I have enjoyed them all very much, the more recent Miss Marple incarnations played by Gereldine Mcewan and Julia Mackenzie were great. Each of those excellent actresses brought something different to the role, however neither of them were the real Miss Marple for me. There can only be one real Miss Marple on the screen – the marvellous Joan Hickson. Thinking about Joan Hickson – who played Miss Marple in an adaptation of A Caribbean Mystery on TV – reminds me of my Dad strangely enough. He hated Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple – she drove him to distraction, actually driving him from the room while we watched. He found her irritatingly simpering and nosey. Of course that irritating old lady routine was what made her such a genius.
I have to admit that I have always been slightly more of a Poirot fan than a Marple fan – but I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her again – and the setting of this particular novel was an added attraction. Written in the 1960’s and set on a Caribbean island there are, maybe unsurprisingly, a few wincey un-pc moments – some of the language is unfortunate rather than very offensive. I try to accept these things in novels as being true to the times in which they were written and of the people who were writing them. Still ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ is a good old fashioned cosy mystery – probably not among Agatha Christie’s best – the plot is fairly thin and the culprit easily guessed at – still for me even a poor Agatha Christie novel is a good read.