This review is going to be on the shorter side, because I don’t think I have much to say about this one. Mostly, it just wasn’t what I was expecting!
Firstly, this is a short story collection, not a novel (like I thought). Parker Pyne is indeed an investigator of sorts, but not one like Hercule Poirot (like I thought), but one like I’ve never seen before. So, props to good old Agatha on that one for originality, I guess. He doesn’t investigate crimes, and you can’t really hire him to figure something out for you. Instead, he runs an add in the newspaper saying, “Are you happy? If not, consult Mr. Parker Pyne.” And people come, and he tells them he can make them happy, please give him money.
The first half of the collection mostly features Parker Pyne and associates tricking people via elaborate set-ups into scenarios where Pyne can manipulate them as he sees fit. He’s really sort of a bastard. But he gets results. The second half features Pyne a wanderin’ the earth, happening across people he can ply his brains on in other ways. Neither half worked perfectly for me. The first half was a little formulaic (he tricks the clients in different ways, but it’s still the same basic outline for the plot) and the second just wasn’t as emotionally interesting to me, with the exception of “The House at Shiraz,” which I thought was neat.
Glad I read it, but not a favorite.