Agatha Christie Lovers discussion

Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (Miss Marple, #4.5; Hercule Poirot, #30)
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Book of the Month Reads > CLOSED November 2014 - Three Blind Mice and Other Stories

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message 1: by Carolyn F. (last edited Oct 28, 2014 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carolyn F. | 4565 comments Mod
Originally published 1950. Features Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Alternate Title: The Mouse Trap

A blinding snowstorm--and a homicidal maniac--traps a small party of friends in an isolated estate. Out of this deceptively simple set-up, Agatha Christie fashioned one of her most ingenious puzzlers, which, in turn, would provide the basis for The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in history. From this classic title novella to the deliciously clever gems on its tail (solved to perfection by Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple), this rare collection of murder most foul showcases the intimtable Christie at her inventive best, proving her reputation as "the champion deceiver of our time."


message 2: by ✿ Deni (last edited Oct 28, 2014 01:40AM) (new)

✿ Deni (denidax) Just a bit of trivia about the play based on one of the stories of this book:

"The Mousetrap is celebrating the 62nd year of a record breaking run during which over 25,000 performances have been given. It is quite simply a great piece of theatrical history because of what it is, a whodunit written by the greatest crime writer of all time."

Source: The St Martins Theatre


message 3: by Mitali (last edited Oct 29, 2014 04:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mitali | 52 comments Just FYI ... the description in the first post is about the October book (Crooked House), not this one. :)


Carolyn F. | 4565 comments Mod
Oh no, I'll fix it. :)

By the way, I've already started the audiobook.


Carolyn F. | 4565 comments Mod
Well I finished the audiobook for Three Blind Mice. I kept thinking that I'd read it before and when I found out who did it, I was certain I had. Good story. No wonder it's been an active play so long.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments I've got the book. Will start it tonight.


message 7: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 5 comments Wonderful. It is sitting on the bookshelf right above me!


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Really liked it but I feel that one character was never fully explained. I don't want to say too much and spoil it for others.


Brad Friedman | 191 comments Three Blind Mice was the third Christie book I read (I think I was about 12.) the first was And Then There Were None, and the second was Murder on the Orient Express. Can you see why I was spoiled for other mystery writers at the time?

The centerpiece of this collection, of course, is the title story. The rest of the tales go back as early as 1923, and I think they are, by and large, very good stories. It's as close as we'll ever get seeing Poirot and Miss Marple fight crime side by side. Personally, I think Miss Marple's homespun brand of detection works better in the short story form, but the Poirot stories gathered here are clever, especially The Kidnapping of Johnny Waverly.

I really want to discuss "Three Blind Mice," but it's too early in the month to get into it deeply. Hopefully, others will chime in, and we can talk about it. For now, a couple of things:

* It started as a radio play and then became the record breaking stage play that is still playing in London. I got to see the play there some years ago. I remember the theatre was almost empty the night I was there, but everyone around me was trying to figure out "whodunit!" (They were ALL wrong!)

* Christie didn't play around with serial killers very often, but she used the device in extremely clever and varied ways, including some of my favorite novels (And Then There Were None, Murder Is Easy, The A.B.C. Murders, and Curtain).

The story contains seven main characters. The play, "The Mousetrap," has an eighth suspect, Miss Casewell. She is an interesting figure, and along with Christopher Wren, she provides a fascinating glimpse into how Christie may have viewed gay people. I have no idea why she was cut from the story unless Christie was trying to make the tale shorter for publication. It is disturbing that, in the hunt for a serial killer, we would find two gay characters (out of eight people). But then, in those days, the medical community didn't look too kindly on homosexuality.

Lots more to talk about if people are up for it.


Mitali | 52 comments I've actually read all the stories in this book, but in other collections (same as with Witness for the Prosecution a couple of months ago). And luckily, I've completely forgotten the plot to the titular story, so I can reread it as a 'new' story - I love when I that happens (hurrah for an imperfect memory! ;) ). I'll get to it as soon as I finish the book I'm currently reading.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Brad, I thought the personality of Christopher Wren added a lot of flamboyance to the Monkswell Manor.


message 12: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments I LOVE Christopher Wren, Sheri. I had the great fortune to direct the play at the high school where I am drama teacher, and it was such fun to bring these characters to life. My Mollie was adorable, and her Giles was a very handsome guy with just enough sinister in him to make you wonder. My Christopher and Miss Casewell captured the flamboyance of the one and the cold masculinity of the other. And my favorite was my Mr. Paravicini, who played the part as if he was Hercule Poirot as a murderer. (I've given no spoilers here! The point is to make EVERYONE look suspicious!)

You could argue that Christie was giving in to stereotype with Mr. Wren. But then again, he is extremely theatrical in just the way a murderer might be theatrical. So perhaps Christopher (and Christie) are having one over on all of us...... :)


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments And she did just that - made everyone look suspicious. At one time or another I was sure each was the culprit, even Molly.


message 14: by ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri •°*”˜.•°*”˜ (last edited Nov 03, 2014 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments And she did just that - made everyone look suspicious. At one time or another I was sure each character was the culprit, even Molly.


message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Smuz | 22 comments I remember reading this sometime back in the 1970s, my older brother had a copy on his bookshelf. The whole atmosphere of the snowed-in manor and everything seeming so menacing completely hooked me. I never would've guessed the ending!! In the late 1980s I traveled to London and saw "Mousetrap" at St. Martin's Theater -- and even though I knew the ending, I still loved every second of it.


message 16: by ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri •°*”˜.•°*”˜ (last edited Nov 03, 2014 02:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Kathy, lucky you! I want to go live in a guest house. With nice people of course.:)


message 17: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 5 comments Christie' first description of Christopher Wren... Bony clasp, Bony fingers, high pitched voice, skipping onto the hall. Makes him sound like a childish ghoul that can cook a mean omelette. Ha!


message 18: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I loved The Blind Mice. I was surprised by the ending, truly Agatha Christie style. I'm reading the other stories now.


Hasselhh | 17 comments I'm waiting for my copy of the book because I live in Denmark my own Christie short story collections are different, so I'm missing 3 stories including ”three blind mice”. I have read most of them before, and are now rereading the ones I have. Since all the Miss Marples are in Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories I started there. Strange Jest was for me a little off somehow. It was very shot and I did not feel like there was much depth in the characters of Edward Rossiter and Charmain Stroud.


message 20: by Katherine (new) - added it

Katherine Hi and Good morning. I finished the book last night. It was the first time I read, Three Blind Mice. It was great. If I ever get the chance to see the play, I will definitely go see it! I love Miss Marple. Can I keep her??? The Third Floor Flat, really grabbed my attention and held it. They were all good and I didn't really have a favorite.


message 21: by Katherine (new) - added it

Katherine Brad wrote: "I LOVE Christopher Wren, Sheri. I had the great fortune to direct the play at the high school where I am drama teacher, and it was such fun to bring these characters to life. My Mollie was adorable..."

That would be so much fun, to direct the play. I bet you had a great time with it!!!


message 22: by Katherine (new) - added it

Katherine Kathy wrote: "I remember reading this sometime back in the 1970s, my older brother had a copy on his bookshelf. The whole atmosphere of the snowed-in manor and everything seeming so menacing completely hooked m..."

I'm so glad you got to see Mousetrap. How exciting and memorable!


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments I don't want to be a spoiler but does anyone else feel like there was one character that wasn't fully explained? Did I miss it?


message 24: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Are you talking about the murderer, Sheri?


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Brad, not the murderer. Maybe I need to go back and look but there's one character that I don't know his profession or where he's going when he leaves.


message 26: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Hmm....that sounds like Mr. Paravicini. Major Metcalf is pretty clear from beginning to end, as is Christopher Wren. Mr. P. is deliberately mysterious (Mollie realizes that he - gasp! - dyes his hair!!) as befitting a manor house mystery!


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Yep. Thanks for being brave enough to write it. I didn't want to spoil anything for others. What do you think is up with the makeup? Just to look younger? Cross dresser? Weirdo?


Carolyn F. | 4565 comments Mod
Brad wrote: "Hmm....that sounds like Mr. Paravicini. Major Metcalf is pretty clear from beginning to end, as is Christopher Wren. Mr. P. is deliberately mysterious (Mollie realizes that he - gasp! - dyes his ha..."

When I was listening to the book the narrator made him sound slightly Poirot-ish that I thought it was Poirot in disguise. I kept waiting for the big reveal :)


message 29: by Katherine (new) - added it

Katherine Carolyn F. wrote: "Brad wrote: "Hmm....that sounds like Mr. Paravicini. Major Metcalf is pretty clear from beginning to end, as is Christopher Wren. Mr. P. is deliberately mysterious (Mollie realizes that he - gasp! ..."

I like your comment Carolyn.


message 30: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Katherine wrote: "Carolyn F. wrote: "Brad wrote: "Hmm....that sounds like Mr. Paravicini. Major Metcalf is pretty clear from beginning to end, as is Christopher Wren. Mr. P. is deliberately mysterious (Mollie realiz..."

So do I! Isn't it interesting that the most suspicious thing about Mr. Paravicini is his "foreignness," while Mr. Poirot (same initial!) always trades on the Englishman's aversion to foreigners to get people to underestimate his powers?


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments "'Three Blind Mice' - so it was! The tune has got into my head. Now I come to think of it, it is a gruesome little rhyme. Not a nice little rhyme at all. But children like gruesome things.. You may have noticed that? That rhyme is very English - the bucolic, cruel
English countryside. 'She cut off their tails with a carving-knife.' Of course a child would love that - I could tell you things about children -"

Wonder what Mr. P. would have told Molly if she would have listened.


message 32: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Nursery rhymes and fairy tales ARE gruesome things - thanks goodness! Think of how many of them have inspired Christie in her work:

Ten Little Indians
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
Five Little Pigs
Crooked House
Mrs. McGinty's Dead
A Pocket Full of Rye
Hickory Dickory Dock

Lots of other mystery writers used nursery rhymes and fairy tales as inspiration, notably Ellery Queen and Ed McBain.


message 33: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I noticed that a lot of nursery rhymes are that way. But as children growing up, it really didn't mean anything. I wonder what today's child thinks about them. My mother always read the rhymes to me along with Grimm's fairy tales and they are dramatic.


message 34: by Mitali (last edited Nov 08, 2014 09:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mitali | 52 comments I finished this book a couple of days ago. I have mixed feelings about it. Some of the stories are excellent - the title story, in particular, of course. But a few others are just kind of bland, to say the least.

'Strange Jest' is frankly dull, with the resolution of the mystery resting on a turn of phrase that probably no one who is not British and over a century old could possibly know.

'Tape Measure Murder' is a not a bad story in itself, but it's completely spoilt because the (view spoiler)

'The Case of the Caretaker' has a nice structure, but it's so short, and Miss Marple reveals the solution almost before you've had a chance to think about it yourself. Also, if the story took place in St. Mary Mead, how is it remotely possible that Miss Marple didn't know about it till then?

'The Love Detectives' is pretty good - I have a soft spot for Mr. Satterthwaite. But it's not really great in comparison with some of the better stories in 'The Mysterious Mr. Quin'.

From the remaining stories, I liked 'The Case of the Perfect Maid' and 'The Third Floor Flat' the most. The rest were ok - neither good nor bad.

That's not counting 'Three Blind Mice', of course, which is brilliant. Great atmosphere, a wide cast of likely suspects, a motive for murder buried in the past ... lots of good stuff. I guessed who the murderer was almost as soon as the character was introduced, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story. It's also the exception that proves the rule that Christie didn't really write very good short stories - only when she writes a novella-length story does she really have the freedom to develop the characters and their backstories.

On the whole, this is a decent collection - definitely better than, say, 'The Witness for the Prosecution and other stories' that we read a couple of months ago. I liked that the stories included Marple, Poirot and Satterthwaite ones. But in comparison with Christie's best work, it falls considerably short.


message 35: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Vassallo | 11 comments While I actually enjoyed all the stories to differing degrees, I agree with Mitali. I also don't think the stories, with the exception of Three Blind Mice, are as good as Christie's full length mysteries.


message 36: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 5 comments I just finished 'Three Blind Mice; last night and still love it! About Mr. Paravicini, he reminded me not only of Poirot, but also Mr. Shaitana from 'Cards on the Table!'


message 37: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I loved the Three Blind Mice....it was very absorbing and the murderer was a shock. I never would have guessed. I did like most of the stories...The Case of the Perfect Maid, The Case of the Caretaker and The Third Floor Flat were my favorites.


˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 551 comments Chris wrote: "I loved the Three Blind Mice....it was very absorbing and the murderer was a shock. I never would have guessed. I did like most of the stories...The Case of the Perfect Maid, The Case of the Careta..."

Chris, I was surprised too. I didn't even consider that person.


Hasselhh | 17 comments I must say that the title story was not my favorite in the book. I had guessed the murderer and was a little let down in relation to the lack of information about the diffrent cast, I would have loved to know more especially of the young man.


Renee | 447 comments Still catching up on past reads. Even though I figured out who the murderer was, Three Blind Mice was my favourite story. I enjoyed all the characters and loved the setting of the snowed in guest house.

Strange Jest was a bit of an odd one I thought. It was okay, but not my favourite in the book.

Like Mitali said, I also thought Tape-Measure Murder was a bit spoiled because of the title since it made it easy to figure out. I enjoyed all the stories though.


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