Shinn's Reviews > The Moving Finger: A Miss Marple Mystery

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
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May 21, 11

bookshelves: 2011, detective, humour, rural, society, mystery
Read on May 17, 2011

I gave this book four stars because it is one of the few detective stories that took me by surprise. I was a little tired of continually dozing over Steppenwolf and wanted a light read so I borrowed my sister's Miss Marple collection. While The Moving Finger isn't the kind of great literature that will change the world, it is nonetheless a well-written book.

I think Agatha Christie understands better than most other mystery writers that readers - or at least some of them - will always try to figure out "who did it". So in this book she crafts a nice little double mindf**k that leads you down the garden path, makes you feel exasperated that the villain is clearly in plain sight while setting up other suspects for what you feel are less astute readers and then reveals the real culprit. Thankfully, Christie also understands that such a reader is equally delighted at being proven wrong, at being taken by surprise.

There's quite a bit of humour here with some hilarious lines - "Caleb has absolutely no taste for fornication. He never has had. So lucky being a clergyman." and my favourite - "Wicked letters—indecent, too, using such words and all. Worse than I've ever seen in the Bible, even." Each idiosyncratic character is well-sketched out. I even liked the rom-com style shenanigans between Jerry and Megan, despite myself. On the other hand, I thought it strange that the supposed central character, Miss Marple is inserted almost as an afterthought, introduced ex machina to merely give the solution to the mystery.

Still, this was an entertaining and comfortable read (I finished it in about three or four hours). Now I know who to turn to - apart from Alexander McCall-Smith, of course - when the less than high-brow part of me wants a bit of respite from German existential angst.
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