I’m not an Agatha Christie expert. She’s an excellent writer, quite talented at setting up clever, puzzle box mysteries. But as I’ve said countless times, the whodunnit has never interested me much. I’m more interested in the whydunnit. I do believe aspiring mystery writers need to read her in order to hone their craft. But I’m not a diehard. The English countryside whodunnit really isn’t my thing.
However, I saw this one was a standalone (the only recurring character is a mystery novelist one that pops up in several other of her works and is obviously there for Christie to poke fun at herself and the genre she dominated) with a dead Vicar at the center of it all. So I figured I’d give it a shot.
Yeah it’s a puzzle box but it’s still a fun one. Untethered from the need to shoehorn Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot and their many eccentricities into the tale, it becomes a simple story of a regular guy trying to find out the truth behind these bizarre set of deaths that may-or-may not be related. There are moments of suspense and good humor. The conclusion was somewhat predictable but it was still fun getting there.
Christie published this in 1961 and I got the sense that she’s kind of cutting loose a bit. Her mind is still incredibly fertile to be so clever with how she writes these things. It’s not one of her best but I enjoyed it well enough and I think even the non-Christie completist can do so too.