Agatha Christie 100 - Nemesis

The last written of the Miss Marple mysteries, though there is still one to go after this one, this might have been a better final to the elderly lady's career than what was actually published last.

Miss Marple is saddened to read in the newspaper that her old friend Mr. Rafiel (of A Caribbean Mystery fame) has passed away, but equally astonished when his lawyers inform her that he has one final task for her. It turns out that he booked her a coach trip through the English countryside. And now Miss Marple needs to find out exactly what Mr. Rafiel wanted and how the coach trip fits in with those wishes.

As I said in the introduction above, this would have been more suitable as Miss Marple's final case than Sleeping Murder, at least in most respects. As with many of her late career offerings, this feels rather woolly and meandering almost throughout, though there is an interesting plot beneath it all.

Coming into this re-read I had fairly high expectations on this one, because I remembered it as a pretty good story. I did feel less impressed during this read, though. I speculated earlier that I might have been getting used to Christie's tangents and digressions, but with this one I again felt a bit annoyed. There was one instance during the final explanations where Miss Marple explains something twice, and the second time the listeners react as if they'd never heard that information before. Some editing would have been good here.

Also, my perception was probably coloured by the fact that I felt that the culprit was fairly obvious the whole time - somewhat unfairly, perhaps, because I don't remember it that way from previous reads. The attempts at diverting the reader's suspicions elsewhere didn't really convince me this time.

But nevertheless, while I was less impressed with this than with, for example, Third Girl, it's still a fairly decent mystery and an enjoyable read, if too drawn out. Miss Marple's claims of being a Nemesis seem all the more apt after the dénouement of this one.

I'll award this a somewhat below average rating of 36 out of 100.

1973 1976

Another title with just two Swedish editions, perhaps a bit surprisingly - this novel has a better reputation than most of Christie's late career works. The title is, perhaps less surprisingly, exactly the same in Swedish as in English - I mean, the Greek goddess has the name she has.

The first of the covers is a direct steal from the first British edition. A pretty clever image with a ball of yarn and a scarf forming a question mark - good stuff. Then we have the Delfinserien cover - only 44 years old by now, and the one I own - which is all right. Per Åhlin has modelled his Marple on Margaret Rutherford, but as he couldn't have known that Joan Hickson would become the ultimate Marple, that's not his fault. Perhaps a bit too cluttered with all the greenery, but the greenhouse is important to the backstory, so that's okay.


  1. Christian - I enjoy your blog very much and typically agree with your take on each of Christie's books.

    You are right about this one. It does have a unique plot with an inspired motive / murderer ... but it also sags in the middle and could have been edited into a tighter, more impactful story. I do like the Miss Marple's confrontation with the culprit at the end though.

    Imagine if Christie had written this in her prime during the 40s. I bet it would have been brilliant.

    1. Quite right, Scott, you bring up some good points. There are some very good sections in this one, which shows that Christie still could come up with the goods, at least from time to time.

      A Nemesis from the 40s would have been a very interesting read.

      Thanks for the kind words!