Miss Marple has been treated to a holiday on Caribbean island St. Honoré by her nephew, Raymond West. While there, she enters into a conversation with the somewhat long-winded Major Palgrave. He asks her whether she wants to see a picture of a murderer, but just as he's about to show it to her, he changes the subject and puts the photo back in his wallet. And when he is found dead the very next day, Miss Marple's suspicions are raised...
I wondered in my last blog post if there were any later Christie stories that would approach the excellence of After the Funeral, and I suppose I got my answer here. While this novel is not quite as good, this might actually be Christie's last really good mystery. I won't swear to it as there are several titles that I still haven't re-read yet, but from what I can remember of them, I think that's a safe statement. (Again, discounting the two novels that she wrote earlier and then published at the tail-end of her career.)
While this story takes place in the Caribbean, Miss Marple never seems out of place, mainly because there's very little made of the setting. To be honest, it could have been set at almost any hotel with only minimal changes to the story. On the other hand, that means that Miss Marple never seems out of place, and she manages to get the support from the likewise elderly (and super rich) Mr. Rafiel in her endeavours to sniff out the truth.
The killer is fairly well-hidden, though the misdirection used - how one of the characters is looking very intently in a certain direction - is one we've seen before. Though Christie handles it deftly and with some variation here, and I don't think that the reader ought to see through it just because he or she has read her other variations on this theme.
A strong, solid mystery by Christie, and I'll rate it a 65 out of 100.
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