Sunday, May 20, 2012

3 in 1 Miss Marple

I read three Marples recently while I was out on vacation, so please see below a 3 in 1 post about the same.

Books read:

  1. 4:50 from Paddington
  2. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
  3. A Caribbean Mystery



4:50 from Paddington or What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw : Written by Agatha Christie and Published in 1957. 4:50 from Paddington tells the tale of  Mrs McGillicuddy who is travelling in a train to see her friend Jane Marple. On her way she sees a woman being murdered in a crossing parallel train. The Problem is that she could not identify either the murderer or the victim and the police are unable to locate the dead woman's body on the train. The Police think of this incident as hallucinations of an old women and curb any further inquiries. Mrs McGillicuddy  narrates this incident to Miss Marple, who hatches up a scheme to nab the killer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Problem of the Green Capsule aka The Black Spectacles by John Dickson Carr

 Plot: A mad man/woman poisons chocolates in a tobacco shop in the quaint village of Sodbury cross, which leaves a child dead and few others terribly sick. Marcus Chesney's niece is suspected of the crime but Chesney does not agree with these suspicions.

Marcus Chesney is a man with many idiosyncrasies. One of which is, he believes that eye witnesses are unreliable. Marcus postulates that people are poor observers and can seldom narrate simple incidents reliably. He wants to prove this to his family and friends, who often disagree with him.

To prove his theory he sets up an elaborate charade where he sets up everything as series of traps to confuse and vex the audience. During his Pantomime, an insect like man wearing dark glasses enters the stage and makes Marcus swallow a green pill. The audience think that this part of a preconceived plan. The only problem is that Marcus ends up dead after a few minutes and the person who was supposed to play the part of the Phantom or the man who looked like a "giant insect" is also found critically injured.

Chesney's theory becomes fact. There are witnesses but all have conflicting stories to tell and even the camera which caught the whole thing seems unreliable. Dr Fell is called in to solve the problem of the green capsule.

Review: Children getting poisoned, really? is this something that you would want to read. I mean this isn't something that happens only in fiction. Crimes against children are very common and in a recent TV program called "Satyamev Jayate" perhaps the eyes of a whole nation of hypocrites were opened. But we are not here to talk about real crimes we are here to talk about fiction. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  Plot: Dr. Watson has returned to London from a brutal war in Afghanistan, broke and convalescing from his injuries, Watson needs a place to stay. Soon, Watson meets the eccentric and brilliant Sherlock Holmes with whom he will share his residence at Baker Street. Dr Watson finds out the Holmes is a consulting detective and is a polymath whose skills in deduction are unmatched.



Police Detectives are frequent visitors to the Baker Street resident, where they seek Holmes advise on unusual and tenebrous crimes. On one such faithful day, Holmes gets a letter from the Police about a most perplexing murder. A man was found dead in an abounded house without an injury on his body but there are marks of blood in the room and "RACH" is written in blood on the wall.

Lestrade and Gregson want Holmes to help them in the case where the next victim of the murderer is the Prime suspect.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Trial and Error by Anthony Berkeley




Plot: Shy and reclusive Lawrence Todhunter is suffering a fatal heart disease and before he departs he wants to do a final good deed for his fellow man. Todhunter arranges a meeting of  his close acquaintances and coaxes them in a academic discussion of what should be done by a person who wants the world to be a better place. To his utmost surprise the unanimous verdict is to commit murder! removing a vile and unscrupulous person would mean helping multiple people whose lives are troubled by this ignoble individual. 


Todhunter takes up the advise and then searches for his victim. His search ends with Miss Norwood, a film actress who seduces men by the dozens and leaves them in destitution once she has ruined their lives. Todhunter commits a meticulously planned murder and shoots the "unlady" like Miss Norwood. Todhunter after committing this great act of valor and bravery goes off on a trip to Japan. but en route he receives news that a married man Palmer who was involved with Miss Norwood has been arrested for her murder.

Todhunter is appalled at this grave injustice and returns immediately to inform the authorities that they have arrested the wrong man and it is actually him they want, but the police think of Todhunter as dangerous as a box of kittens and dismiss him as a lunatic. Todhunter's desperate attempts to get Palmer exonerated end up in vain as he is found guilty and is to be executed for killing the famous actress.

Todhunter enlists a detective and a famous barrister to help him in prosecuting himself.

Review: The plot sounds fantastic, a man plagued by a fatal disease wants to do charity by committing murder. but his plan goes haywire when someone else is convicted for his crime and now he has to prove his own guilt which is not going to be easy. Is the fantastic sounding plot as good as Berkeley's brlliant novel The Poisoned Chocolate Case?