Sunday 5 September 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

Designed to follow the new-look series of Miss Marple books for the 21st century. This edition is completed and unabridged and read by Miss Marple herself, Joan Hickson. Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitiation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building. Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.

Unabridged apparently and Joan Hickson, but actually Emilia Fox narrating and unless she was speed reading I'm pretty positive this one was about half the length it should have been. A bit of research tells me there's a 6 hr 35 min version read by Fox, so this was definitely abridged, which leads to a separate question. If more than half of it was cut and the story was coherent and still made sense, did it all need to be there in the first place?

Miss Marple is asked to check on an old friend at the behest of her sister. The woman lives with her husband and assorted extended family and staff at a mansion, which is also a centre for youngsters who have gotten into trouble. The friend's husband is a bit of a philanthropist and has opened their home up to try and 'save' these wayward individuals and get them back on the straight and narrow.

Inevitably someone gets shot at and lives and at the same time someone else is shot at and dies. Marple does her thing and we get the answers and the outcome in due course.

I enjoyed the book and the mystery itself was plausible. I had a bit of trouble tracking all the various characters and their relationships to each other. I suppose the greater the cast, the more suspects, the more motives, the more complicated the process of elimination before arriving at the answer.

I've listened to a few other Christie book on Audio subsequent to this one and while I've enjoyed them all, I think with the exception of Endless Night, I don't really feel anything for a lot of the cast of characters. Here, no sympathy for the victim, no empathy for the villain with his desperation leading him/her to murder, no real emotion or involvement in the book is garnered. I think it's more of an intellectual puzzle to solve, where the reader tries to second guess the outcome to prove themselves on a par with Dame Agatha.

More to like than dislike and a change of pace from my usual reading. 

3 from 5

Christie's The Pale Horse was enjoyed recently. 

Read - (listened to) August, 2021
Published - 1952
Page count - 227 (3 hrs 9 mins)
Source - Scribd 
Format - Audible


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Col, even if it's not tops on your list for the year. I wonder whether it would've been easier to keep track of the characters if the story hadn't been abridged? Perhaps their relationships were described more fully? Hard to say, of course. In the meantime. It is an interesting puzzle, and I'm glad you liked that part of it.

    1. Possibly Margot you make a good point. I didn't feel 'rushed' listening to it, but I did think oh maybe I should make a character list as I'm progressing through the book with their connections. The thing is though I listen when either driving, or walking or other exercising and the list making or note taking isn't an option.

  2. I am surprised and glad that you are listening to a good number of Christie books. A change of pace is nice. I haven't read a Miss Marple in a while. I would not want to read or listen to an abridged version though.

    1. Hand on heart I would have picked a different one if I had known it was going to be a shortened version. I think I'm upto 5 Christie's now in the past month and a half! Go me...