Reading the Detectives discussion

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Group Challenges > 4:50 from Paddington - SPOILER Thread

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
Published in 1957 this novel changed titles several times. The novel had several changing times - from 4.15 to 4.30 then 4.54 before becoming 4.50, with the original manuscript being called the 4.54 From Paddington. It was originally published in the US as What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw and, in 1961, Margaret Rutherford played her first role as Miss Marple in a film adapted from this book (our next read - The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side is dedicated to Rutherford.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Sawako (new)

Sawako | 31 comments I really enjoyed this book. It's a well-written mystery. I didn't guess the murder as I was familiar with the plot. I watched the Japanese adaptation of the book. The anime made changes in the plot which is something I don't like when it happens. Since this is the spoiler thread: Whom do you think Lucy choose to marry? Which one do you think Bryan or Cedric? I think it's Bryan.


LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Sawako wrote: "I really enjoyed this book. It's a well-written mystery. I didn't guess the murder as I was familiar with the plot. I watched the Japanese adaptation of the book. The anime made changes in the plot..."

Do you think Lucy is a better fit with Bryan? Or with Cedric?


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
I think she marries, Bryan, but I suppose Christie allows the reader to choose whichever man she feels would be best.


message 5: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments In the Hickson version, she clearly is going to marry Bryan. In the McEwan version, it is someone else entirely. Though Christie never commented further on the subject, she is fond of matching people up in unexpected ways, so my guess is that she would pick Cedric (though I can't imagine why)! Bryan is too obvious.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
How could she not be swayed by Bryan's young son's plea, though, Pghfan? I thought that was very well written and I thought the boys really helped the plot along.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Susan wrote: "I think she marries, Bryan, but I suppose Christie allows the reader to choose whichever man she feels would be best."
I don't know where I got it into my mind that Craddock was also a possible choice- it has to have been one of the adaptations - though when I looked this up online, there were also others who felt she might choose Craddock.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments I enjoyed reading this one- I've read it at least twice before- perhaps more than that- and though I didn't quite remember at the beginning whodunit, it suddenly came flooding back all of a sudden somewhere in the middle. But it was again one I never guessed the first time around- I kept suspecting Cedric and Bryan.


message 9: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I agree, Susan, that Lucy would have a tough time ignoring Alexander's plea! I also agree that Bryan would be the most pleasing choice. I wish Christie would have brought Lucy back in another Marple book, so we could enjoy her again and also find out the answer of who she married!


message 10: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments I originally rooted for Bryan to marry Lucy (I usually like the ne'er-do-well character but found Cedric annoying and smug) but after a few rereads found myself wondering about a possible dark horse in the shape of Inspector Craddock. I was delighted to see that this idea is used in one of the TV adaptations - however, I suspect it isn't what AC had in mind. In another discussion on this subject, someone pointed out that Craddock appears in A Murder Is Announced and says he's unmarried. So I'll settle for Bryan.


message 11: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Annabel wrote: "I originally rooted for Bryan to marry Lucy (I usually like the ne'er-do-well character but found Cedric annoying and smug) but after a few rereads found myself wondering about a possible dark hors..."

Re Craddock, there was a bit of a hint when she says something about him being human etc. A Murder is annouced was before this one, so may be there is a chance. Though I wasn't too sure at the end.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) A Murder Is Announced is set before this one though - so Craddock is still in the running!


message 13: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments You may be on to something, Annabel. If you check out the McEwan adaptation of this book, you will find that Lucy does in fact pick the detective (though it is not Craddock.)


message 14: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8320 comments Mod
I thought Cedric was the man for her quite early on, as he seems to be very attractive, but I was a bit put off by how conceited he seems to be - I think Bryan and his sweet son would be a better bet. I never thought about the detective in this context!


message 15: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Pghfan wrote: "You may be on to something, Annabel. If you check out the McEwan adaptation of this book, you will find that Lucy does in fact pick the detective (though it is not Craddock.)"

They changed his name and in fact the entire character, if I remember right.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
I probably just wanted more Alexander to be happy. He was such a sweet little boy and so grown up. I seriously never thought of her marrying the detective though and it is an interesting thought.


message 17: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Susan wrote: "I probably just wanted more Alexander to be happy. He was such a sweet little boy and so grown up. I seriously never thought of her marrying the detective though and it is an interesting thought."

I thought perhaps that's what she was hinting at with the twinkle in her eyes but then earlier, Lucy does mention being equally attracted by Bryan and Cedric and no such hint about Craddock except the he was human bit...


message 18: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments I like the idea of Alexander having such a cool mother, as well.


message 19: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments Oh that's encouraging about A Murder Is Announced being earlier. I like Inspector Craddock and Miss Marple does keep going on about how good-looking he is. And the two of them do keep discussing Lucy when she isn't there. And after all, why would he ask which of the other two men she's going to marry if he doesn't care?? (Clutching at straws a bit now...)

Equally, I do feel sad for Bryan and for his lovely son. Perhaps Bryan could marry Rose Hubbard from Murder Is Easy instead? She seems just his type.


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
I think Agatha Christie's match making abilities are catching ;)


message 21: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments Yes, I'm afraid so! I don't like anyone to be left out in the cold and I hate unhappy endings. Rose Hubbard was meant to be marrying a doctor in MIE, but he was annoyingly supercilious and patronized Luke, so I don't mind disappointing him.


message 22: by LovesMysteries (last edited Jun 03, 2017 01:21PM) (new)

LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Judy wrote: "I thought Cedric was the man for her quite early on, as he seems to be very attractive, but I was a bit put off by how conceited he seems to be - I think Bryan and his sweet son would be a better b..."

I rather Lucy be with Bryan than Cedric. Yes, both men have their flaws . . . but who doesn't? I rather Lucy marry Bryan and become a mother to Alexander and make the family complete. Lucy would be a great mother to Alexander just as (view spoiler)


message 23: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 170 comments Almost anybody would be better than Arlena. :) Why are some men so blind?


message 24: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8320 comments Mod
As I just said over in the other thread, I watched the Joan Hickson version of this story today, but noticed there were a lot more changes to the book than in the other Hickson films I've watched so far. She was still great though, as were the rest of the cast.

I won't go into a lot of detail in case people haven't seen this version yet, but there are some changes to the murder plot itself and also I noticed that Cedric is made rather creepy compared to how he appears in the book, while Bryan is more of a hero!


LovesMysteries  | 234 comments Judy wrote: "I noticed that Cedric is made rather creepy compared to how he appears in the book, while Bryan is more of a hero!"

Bryan may seem like a hero in the film adaptation but he's the kind of man who needs permission to do something. He can't make decisions on his own. It's like he needs more of a mother than a wife and I think that's how he also comes across in the book as well.


message 26: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments LovesMysteries wrote: "Judy wrote: "I noticed that Cedric is made rather creepy compared to how he appears in the book, while Bryan is more of a hero!"

Bryan may seem like a hero in the film adaptation but he's the kind..."

I agree- she would end up having to be mother to both Bryan and Alexander.


message 27: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2501 comments Mod
I enjoyed the book and had no suspicion of the murderer until the suspects were being eliminated one by one. Then I wondered about the doctor, but did not suspect the murdered woman was his wife. I don't understand why he wanted the corpse identified as Emetine and attached to the family. It seems as if it would be safer to dispose of the body in London. He was obviously planning this for awhile as he faked prior poison attempts and the letter.

Any ideas? Did I miss something?

Side note: I listened to the book and the narrator (Joan Hickson, excellent) did not announce chapter headings. So when there would be a quick change of scene I was sure I had missed something! Quite annoying and the first time I've encountered that problem.


message 28: by Jill (new)

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1814 comments One of the things that struck me reading this, was could you imagine the uproar now ,if the police let a couple of young boys view a murder victim's body in this day and age?


message 29: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 362 comments Jill, I thought of that as well. It certainly wouldn't have happened!


message 30: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments I've always found the murderer's plan in this story bizarre. Given that no one was able to successfully identify the dead woman as the doctor's wife, he would have been far better off murdering her in London, as Sandy says above.

Even leaving her body in the train carriage would have been okay. Pushing out onto the ground at the exact spot where the land is owned by his patients brings Dr Quimper into the frame, when he could have remained safely out of sight. It makes no sense to me at all - it feels as though Agatha Christie had the idea for the murderer on the train scenario and separately had an idea about a family in a big house and then simply combined the two.

To be fair, I am writing a detective story myself (of sorts) and keep coming to the depressing conclusion that you can come up with all the ingenious murders you like, but the simplest way to kill anyone is the way Lavinia Pinkerton is murdered in Murder Is Easy. Anything else is just an elaboration - hugely entertaining for us readers, but unnecessary. It's a good thing fictional criminals seem so temperamentally inclined to artistry!


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
Jill, not only did the police seem to think the boys should view the body, they seemed to think it would be a bit of fun for them! I suppose they were a little de-sensitised, fairly shortly after a war, but still! I guess the boys could go back to school and tell everyone, but the reality would probably give you nightmares; especially as it was a fair while before she was found...


message 32: by Wend (new)

Wend (wends) | 12 comments A great Marple. Agree would be great if Lucy appeared in other books.


message 33: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
Yes, I agree, Wend. Lucy was an interesting character and we must see if she pops up again.


message 34: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8320 comments Mod
Annabel wrote: "I've always found the murderer's plan in this story bizarre. Given that no one was able to successfully identify the dead woman as the doctor's wife, he would have been far better off murdering her..."

I thought the idea was to kill two birds with one stone by framing other family members so that he could marry Emma and grab all the money? But I definitely agree that it makes detection far more likely!

Totally agree with your comment " It's a good thing fictional criminals seem so temperamentally inclined to artistry!"


message 35: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Judy wrote: "I thought the idea was to kill two birds with one stone by framing other family members so that he could marry Emma and grab all the money? ..."

Yes- and one would be more likely to suspect the family - especially with the Martine connection he tried to create, than the doctor.


message 36: by Tania (new)

Tania | 375 comments I have just finished this one. I didn't guess at all, he passed through my mind as a possibility simply because he was one of the most unlikely suspects.
I thought that by connecting her murder to the family would also make it easier for him to get away with murdering more members of the family, after all once they started being bumped off, he would be in the frame for those, to an extent, but attention would focus on the family because of Martine.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9314 comments Mod
I rarely guess 'who' Tania - it nearly always seems to be someone who you think can't possible have done it, which then makes you always suspect the least likely candidate next time!


message 38: by Tania (new)

Tania | 375 comments True, but I can sometimes see where the clues are leading, and have an idea, (often wrong), or guess at some aspects of it, but in this one I had no idea. I think this made it both enjoyable and slightly frustrating.


message 39: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 435 comments I finally finished this one and it''s one of my favourites so far. I agree it would have been easier to murder his wife in London, but that would have been a lot less fun for us! A really excellent plot.


message 40: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Carolien wrote: "I finally finished this one and it''s one of my favourites so far. I agree it would have been easier to murder his wife in London, but that would have been a lot less fun for us! A really excellent..."

I think he wanted to do away with his wife plus get the rest of the claimants to the property out of the way in one shot, so to speak.


message 41: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 383 comments This could well be classed as one of my favourite Miss Marple books and was my introduction to Agatha Christie at about age 10 years. Since then I have read it many times, listened to it, watched the various TV/Movies of it, and played the game. In all of this I have never managed to work out a reason for why the Doctor disposed of his wife's body in the barn on the property where the woman, Emma, he wanted to marry lived! Just as I have always wished for the lovely Lucy to marry Bryan for I felt she would be a good wife and mother to Alexander. I think she would have guided Bryan ever so lovingly and gently into becoming more decisive, and to be the father that Alexander wanted.


message 42: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 741 comments I agree with others that this is one of the best Marples (including later ones in our challenge as I came to this group later in the year and I'm reading them out of order as they are available at my library). I had already seen the Rutherford movie adaption of this story years ago, but I wasn't sure if the murderer would remain consistent as they made a lot of other significant changes to the story. So, the doctor was a bit of surprise, and definitely someone I wouldn't have suspected had I not seen the movie already.
I think Bryan is quite clearly the choice for Lucy. The conversation that Miss Marple has with him about listening to a wife's advice on money matters was the clincher. Plus it seems obvious that Lucy also loves Alexander, so its a great package deal. I agree with LovesMysteries and LC that Bryan seems to need a mother-type of wife, but that seems to suit Lucy's personality as not only an efficient, but also a caring homemaker, in the real sense of that word. She was obviously ambitious and clever enough to have gone into the business world, so we must assume that this type of work is what she finds fulfilling.


message 43: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1110 comments Tara wrote: "I agree with others that this is one of the best Marples (including later ones in our challenge as I came to this group later in the year and I'm reading them out of order as they are available at ..."

Having just read another AC story (The Sittaford Mystery) and teh choice the heroine made in that one, I think perhaps you're right, she would probably have chosen Bryan.


message 44: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments Lesley~aka Ella's Gran wrote: "This could well be classed as one of my favourite Miss Marple books and was my introduction to Agatha Christie at about age 10 years. Since then I have read it many times, listened to it, watched t..."

I have always assumed that in the dark, he didn't realize that the body was falling on that particular property. But thinking about it now, as I write this post, he wouldn't have been able to move the body into the barn/storage area if it had been accidental.


message 45: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 722 comments I realise you all read this in 2017 but I've just finished it for my IRL book group who are meeting tonight and popped on to check who you thought Lucy marries.

I'm inclined to Cedric despite the appeal of Alexander. Bryan would be one of those maternal marriages that appear in Christie but which seem unhealthy. Whereas Lucy tells Cedric she'd like to sort out his villa, and when she's talking to Bryan, she keeps thinking of the pig-sty where she used to meet Cedric. I think Lucy would like the challenge and excitement of Cedric.


message 46: by Robin (new)

Robin Roman Clodia wrote: "I realise you all read this in 2017 but I've just finished it for my IRL book group who are meeting tonight and popped on to check who you thought Lucy marries.

I'm inclined to Cedric despite the..."


I see that the early readers thought that Lucy would marry Bryan. I wondered about her affection for the boys and whether Alexander, Bryan's son, would feature in Lucy's choice. However, Alexander has his friend, and the connection he has with Bryan's family. This relationship could well work for the father and son, without Lucy. Lucy seems to me more domestic than maternal, and as Christie says, would enjoy tidying up behind Cedric. I also think that she might like and adventurous life too. So, I'm verging toward your choice, Roman.


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