Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Moving Finger” as Want to Read:
The Moving Finger
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Moving Finger

(Miss Marple #4)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  26,254 ratings  ·  1,778 reviews
Recovering from a flying accident, young pilot Jerry Burton comes to the sleepy village of Lymstock to recuperate. But when a rash of poison-pen letters shatter the calm of the village and seemingly drives one woman to suicide, the vicar's wife calls in her old friend Jane Marple to investigate.
Hardcover, Facsimile of first edition, 160 pages
Published September 12th 2013 by HarperCollins (first published July 1942)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Moving Finger, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Theresa Definitely. Ms. Marple only comes into the story at the very end. It almost shouldn't be considered a Ms. Marple mystery at all.…moreDefinitely. Ms. Marple only comes into the story at the very end. It almost shouldn't be considered a Ms. Marple mystery at all. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,254 ratings  ·  1,778 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Moving Finger
Amalia Gavea
There is too much tendency to attribute to God the evils that man does of his own free will. I must concede you the Devil. God doesn't really need to punish us, Miss Barton. We're so busy punishing ourselves.

Summer and winter are begging for an Agatha Christie masterpiece. Well, any season is fine, really, but extreme heat and extreme cold make most us seek a nice, cozy atmosphere, a good mystery (and what Agatha mystery isnt good?) and the lovely Miss Marple. Every July and August I re-read
Not a favorite by any means, The Moving Finger is a good, tidy mystery, but our Miss Marple is not part of the story until the very end. I have read quite a few Christie mysteries, stand alone stories, a few Poirrot, a few Tommy and Tuppence, but mostly Miss Marple. She is my favorite, because she knows human failings and foibles so well and she looks like a dowdy old lady; and therefore is not taken seriously by murderers, until it's too late.
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

verse 51 of Edward FitzGerald's translation of the Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám

It's rather like Happy Families, isn't it? Mrs Legal, the lawyer's wife, Miss Dose, the doctor's daughter, etc. ... So sweet and funny and old-world. You just can't think of anything nasty happening here, can you?

But nasty things do happen ... even in such an
Oh, this is a good one!

Alright, before the internet gave birth to trolls there were the poison pen writers.
What's that? <--ask the kids
Well, back in the day, the same sort of unbalanced idiots who like to make obnoxious anonymous comments online were forced to send out (gasp!) anonymous letters via the mailbox.


And that's what this Miss Marple mystery is about!
Except, like a lot of Miss Marple mysteries, she's not exactly the star of the show. The main character is an injured fighter pilot
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Moving Finger (Miss Marple #4), original publication year 1942
Characters: Miss Jane Marple, Jerry Burton, Joanna Burton, Megan Hunter, Aimée Griffith, Owen Griffith, Richard Symmington, Elsie Holland, Agnes Woddell, Mrs. Dane Calthrop, Emily Barton, Mr. Pye.
Abstract: Jerry Burton, wounded pilot narrator, recuperates in quiet Lymstock with loyal fashionable sister Joanna, until vicious letters spread suspicion, then death. Mrs Symmington is not the type to panic, but drinks cyanide and leaves
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A curious Miss Marple tale not least because of favourite elderly sleuth only has a minor role in this novel.

I think I would have enjoyed this one more if I wasnt aware that Christies other famous detective featured and her appearance would have come as a great surprise.

The mystery itself instantly grabbed me as siblings Jerry and Joanna Burton arrive in the quite village of Lymstock only to find a series of anonymous letters spreading false accusations, including themselves with a letter
Ms. Smartarse
Lymstock is the quintessential definition of the peaceful English countryside: just ask any of its inhabitants. Everything is so utterly uneventful here, that one might be tempted to attribute its inhabitants' main cause of death to boredom, rather than old age. In other words: the perfect place for Jerry Burton's rehabilitation needs. Doctor's orders. So when the first libel-induced suicide happens, our hero is obviously first in line to flex his sleuthing muscles.


In true Agatha Christie
Elisha Condie
Another Agatha Christie to pass the time. Mmmmm. Delicious. Only I do have the same complaint I had with another of her books that was listed as a Miss Marple Mystery. Jane Marple doesn't appear until the last 1/4 of the book and then she's just a cute little old lady who says a few words at the end. That doesn't count as a Miss Marple mystery for me!! I much prefer it when Miss Marple is the one solving the crime firsthand. The short stories featuring her are the way to go, I'm figuring out.

Jess (Miss Primrose Peasemarch)
This on audio completely blew me away. It was the perfect introduction to Agatha Christie. I've already scooped up a few more of her books to dive into this year. Richard Grant has established himself as one of my favorite book narrators on audio. He makes the story come alive and reads with enthusiasm. The voices he creates for each character are unique and sure to draw a smile at times. Highly recommend this one in audio.

My Reactions:
-The brother and sister duo are stellar and I loved their
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Pros: I liked the main character brother-sister duo of Jerry and Joanna, and it was an interesting variation on the traditional poison-pen mystery. Most of the characters were less hateful than is often the case in Golden Age British mysteries, which made it a relaxing read for a sick day.

Cons: Why is this a Miss Marple mystery? She hardly appears and there's no reason, in terms of the plot, that the case could not have been solved in exactly the same way by the police, who seemed competent. I
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second Agatha Christie book. (To remind myself. There are so MANY!) Anyway, this was just okay. Short read which I appreciated. I didn't guess the killer right away. I liked the dialogue more than the storyline. I like how people are engaged with one another. Miss Marple just kinda showed up to solve the story in the last 30 pages.

People in this small village are getting disgusting, vulgar letters written to them. It makes for a suicide and a killing. The village is full of gossip, snide
Simona Bartolotta
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 1900, in-italian
Most crimes, you see, are so absurdly simple.

My edition features a beautiful afterword by Claudio Savonuzzi, in which this novel is called a black fairytale complete with a Cinderella and a Prince properly dressed for the occasion, and where it is noted how this is the only Christie detective novel where the detective where the detective almost lets the readers forget she (this is a Miss Marple mystery) is there. Our old (not to say ancient) Queen of Busybodies, in fact, appears only in the last
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth Miss Marple mystery, although the narrator is Jerry Barton, while Miss Marple does not appear until late into the novel. Recovering from a serious injury, it is suggested that Jerry spend some time in the country to relax and so he takes a house called Little Furze, in Lymstock, and moves there with his sister, Joanna. Shortly after they arrive, a poisonous pen letter arrives, making all sorts of foul accusations and it soon appears that many others in the village have also ...more
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Read this and more review on my My Book blog

As you can see I've been on a diligent Agatha Christie kick. I think that the month of November makes me want to read mysteries - must be all that grayness and rain.

Where do one's fears come from? Where do they shape themselves? Where do they hide before coming out into the open?

Once again this turned out to be a re-read for me, and once again I couldn't remember anything from my first time reading. I only knew that I've read it, because it felt very
☙ percy ❧
as per pretty much every agatha christie i've read, i was almost 99% sure that i had figured out who it was and that i am an Actual Genius, only for miss marple to blow the whole case open at the end. well-written, as usual, with an interesting romantic aspect that isn't quite usual for christie, but which i liked.
Nandakishore Varma
This one has romance and mystery in equal amounts: for a change, I found the mystery only so-so, but I loved the romance!
The fourth Miss Marple, and again an excellent read. Yet again, despite seeing multiple TV and film versions, I had forgotten who the culprit(s) was (were), and didn't guess until very close to the end (I think it was about 20 pages behind Miss Marple resolving it).
The story is well woven, with some very lively characters and strangely it is not until a long way through (around 3/4) that Miss Marple appears to solve the problem. Even with her late appearance it is still a thoroughly enjoyable
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are questions that you don't ask because you're afraid of the answers to them.

I do wonder why Christie turned this story into a Marple. After all, it would have worked fine without her, since she has such a small role. Especially since we are totally involved in Jerrys point of view, the narrator.

Weirdly, it wasnt so much the murder that captivated me (I had an inkling who it was), but rather Jerrys interactions with his sister, Megan, and indeed the rest of the village. What a nest
This one was a disappointment. The earliest Miss Marple stories don't seem as good as the later ones, except-till now- 'The Body In The Library', which is very complex. I knew this should be a Miss Marple mystery but she doesn't appear throughout most of the book. For another thing, the story takes place in the village of Lymstock, so I kept wondering how Marple was to be brought into the picture. For a few moments I had thought that there must have been a mistake as there wasn't enough scope ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Poison pen letters and then one resident commits suicide (no spoiler as it's on the book's blurb).

Jerry Burton is convalescing in the village with his sister in a rented house on doctor's orders. Lymstock is a quiet place where little happens and is ideal...but then the anonymous letters start being sent to people in the village.

The mystery is enjoyable, and there is a little element of romance that runs through the plot, and helps develop the story and the characters. It is a nice 1940s AC
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Gossip Girl and Miss Marple. Someone is on to everyones hidden secrets. But are they true? And who is the author of the letters? Luckily it doesn't take 6 seasons to find out. (By the time the Gossip Girl was revealed did we even care?)
Karen ⊰✿
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uno_2018
Another delightful Christie mystery where the answer is staring you in the face.
The main characters are siblings Jerry and Joanna who have only just moved to Lymstock to then discover there is a poison-pen writer at large. And the letters don't even seem to have a hint of truth to them.
Naturally poison pen letters can only be written by middle aged spinster women (I love that this is the second book I've read from this time period recently with this assumption!!) and so that narrows down the
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christie
A series of vicious letters destroys the peace of an English village,accusing its inhabitants of much wrongdoing.In the beginning,the plot had my rapt attention,but the tension wasn't as sustained in the later part of the book.Miss Marple appears,almost as an afterthought.
Stephanie Anze
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna move to the quiet village of Lymstock. Having suffered an accident, Mr. Burton's doctor recommends that he goes to the countryside, where his recovery should be more peaceful. But shortly after their arrival, Jerry and Joanna receive a rather unsavory letter accusing them of an absolute lie. Thinking it a prank, they burn the letter and forget about the incident. That is until they learn that most people in the village have received similar letters. When one of ...more
Jan C
I've read this several times and have seen the videos - but, of course, they always seem to change the story. It is enjoyable. Probably one of the few books where Miss Marple doesn't come into the picture until the book is three-quarters done. But, enter she does, to solve the murder.

Much of the book is consumed by the problem of anonymous poison pen letters. Then the bodies start falling.

Enter Miss Marple.
Sophie Hannah
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Agatha's best, I think. A very clever, simple solution that makes you look back on everything that's gone before and see it in a different light. Miss Marple's hardly in it, so it doesn't really feel like a Miss Marple book, but there's so much good stuff in it, you don't really mind. Mrs Dane Calthrop, the vicar's wife, is a wonderful character.
Julie  Durnell
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, england-uk
This was a cleverly plotted mystery written in the first person by Jerry Burton, recovering from an accident in a small town, along with his socialite sister, Joanna. I had pinpointed the wrong person for the murders and was quite surprised by the ending. One of Miss Marple's better stories even though she made a very short appearance.
Amanda Bannister
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5🌟 rounded up to 4 🌟
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this Miss Marple mystery, the narrator is Jerry Burton, a recuperating pilot, who is advised by his doctor to go and relax in some remote village. He chooses Lymstock and goes there with his sister for company. Joanna and Jerry both instantly stand out like fish out of water in the rural scenery. However, that is not sufficient cause for them receiving a poison pen letter. When the siblings reveal this to their neighbours, they get to know that this has been happening for a while in the ...more
David Evans
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I must have read this as a teenager in Devon during the 1970s but the fact that it was so obviously set down the road on the edge of Dartmoor completely passed me by at the time. I did see Agatha Christie in her garden at Greenway while on a boat trip down the river Dart from Totnes around that time - she was pointed out by the man on the public address system causing the whole party to swing round and stare in unison - but I was more concerned by the fact that my mother had somehow mixed up my ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Agatha Christie L...: February 2021 - The Moving Finger 1 3 Oct 18, 2019 08:21AM  
Mission Marple Bo...: General Discussion - The Moving Finger 10 25 Mar 01, 2019 02:02PM  
New Year 3 24 May 01, 2017 01:29AM  
All About Books: Moving Finger (Leslie and Greg) 5 19 Mar 09, 2017 06:04PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot, #45.5)
  • The Unexpected Guest
  • The Mystery of Three Quarters (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries, #3)
  • Spider's Web
See similar books…
Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in

Other books in the series

Miss Marple (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple, #1)
  • The Thirteen Problems (Miss Marple, #2)
  • The Body in the Library (Miss Marple, #3)
  • A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple, #5)
  • They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple, #6)
  • A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple, #7)
  • 4:50 from Paddington (Miss Marple, #8)
  • The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (Miss Marple, #9)
  • A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple, #10)
  • At Bertram's Hotel (Miss Marple, #11)

Related Articles

If you love a page-turning mystery, you are in for a treat this month. We're seeing a great assortment of highly anticipated mysteries and thril...
7 likes · 0 comments
“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.” 88 likes
“There is too much tendency to attribute to God the evils that man does of his own free will. I must concede you the Devil. God doesn't really need to punish us, Miss Barton. We're so busy punishing ourselves.” 55 likes
More quotes…