Are you unhappy? then contact Parker Pyne. This is what the advertisement reads in the Times and if you believe Christie people actually do contact Pyne, Pyne deals especially with matters of the heart. Unfaithful wife/husband, boredom, murder, Pyne will relinquish your worries and make you happy again. The book comprises of a series of short stories in which Pyne deals with his client's troubles, for which the portly fellow charges a fee. Parker employs a writer, a seductress and a lounge lizard among other staff. Pyne who worked in the records department is now retired and runs his detective agency.
Parker Pyne also travels the world and like his more famous counterpart "Hercule Poirot" gets involved in one case after another, although the former is much more mundane then the colorful Poirot. There are a total of 12 stories in this anthology but I'm not going to review all the 12 stories and do more of a generic review. One reason behind doing this is that all the stories are quite alike and have nothing so special as to warrant a review for each.
Let's start with the protagonist himself, Mr Parker Pyne, if there was ever a more dry and boring character in detective fiction it will surely come as a surprise to me, he is a middle aged, portly, boring fellow who keeps repeating the same lines and uses the same logic in solving very similar crimes. Pyne has no personality and his presence is as good as his absence. He is shown as a person who people confide in without any sense or reasoning given by the author, out of all of Christie's books this one takes the cake for being the most illogical and absurd.
The story lines remind one of The Father Brown mysteries, much like the father brown mysteries the sleuth travels around the world, and on his way solves crimes and other problems. One difference in this book and the father brown stories is that in the first few stories people come to Parker Pyne's office and then in the later half of the book, Pyne travels and encounters peculiar problems. Both books are quite racist, boring, illogical and sometimes just illegible. This is perhaps the worst book from the Chrisie cannon and many times during reading this I felt like chucking the book altogether, I'm going to stop reading Christie for a while after this one.
There is no humor in this 300+ pager and that makes reading it all the more difficult, being short stories there is bound to be some negative impact on characterization, but since Christie has never been good with the art of building strong and memorable characters, the characters just fall flat on their faces, they act strangely, inhuman and more like characters out of a C grade novel.
I never felt once that I was reading a book written by the same author who wrote "Murder of Roger Ackroyd" or ATTWN or Cards on the Table. Very hard to believe that Christie wrote this, this feels more like written by some middle aged, well traveled and bored housewife. I'm glad she did not write many short stories
1 out of 5 stars.
Published in 1934
Edition I have : Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 320
Where can you get it from : Flipkart