Monday, February 13, 2012
Vintage Mysteries Reading Challenge 2012 - Review: THREE BLIND MICE by Agatha Christie
I hadn't read this collection of Christie short stories in many years so I think reading it again qualifies for Bev's Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. I have the old Dell version (cover shown above) but I have to hold it very carefully as some of the pages are falling out. I love these old Dell copies.
Anyway, this collection is a mixed bag of stories featuring not only Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Mr. Satterthwaite and Harley Quinn, but also the stand-alone THREE BLIND MICE which gives the collection its name.
According to Les Blatt, one of our favorite vintage mystery bloggers, THREE BLIND MICE was written after a radio production of the same name - originally created for Queen Mary by Christie - had aired. She then expanded the earlier radio piece into a three act play, THE MOUSETRAP - which has been running now for sixty years!
I was lucky enough to see a production of it in the 80's while in London and enjoyed it very much. Though I knew the ending, I was still caught up in the mystery and suspense.
A couple of the stories in this collection have been turned into excellent PBS Mysteries, all done in the early years of David Suchet's reign when the producers were staying true to the stories.
This particular group is available for instant streaming on Netflix. My favorites of that year are FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS and THE THIRD-FLOOR FLAT. Just wonderfully done even if a few odds and ends are added to fatten out the stories. Never mind a bit of that if it makes sense and stays in tune with the characters. In truth both of these stories are actually better in the filmed versions than on the page. Both very visually interesting, both having Captain Hastings added to the mix.
In the short story collection, I enjoyed THE TAPE MEASURE MURDER very much. It features a well-known murder mystery trick which has been used over and over in the years since Christie was turning out her wonderful stories. It's a very tidy murder.
THREE BLIND MICE I didn't like as much as I remembered because the two main characters, Giles and Molly, a newly married couple, are just so 'limp'. (They work better in the play.) And the 'surprise' ending has also been used often enough since then. But I did like Mr. Paravicini, the black market 'Santa Claus.'
THE THIRD FLOOR FLAT is also a good, quick read. Murder in the very same London apartment building in which Poirot has a flat. It is a pleasure reading (or watching) Poirot interact with some 'bright young things'. Very touching watching David Suchet's face as he wistfully looks at one of the beautiful girls involved in the case. Suchet is such a thinking actor. I simply adore him.
Then I noticed that the last story in this collection, THE LOVE DETECTIVES has the very same murderer's trick as in the Jane Marple novel, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY. Though the short story features Mr. Satterthwaite and Harley Quinn, the most enigmatic of Christie's creations.
It's obvious to me that Christie often expanded on ideas she would use in her short stories. EVIL UNDER THE SUN is a primary example. (Though the short story TRIANGLE AT RHODES is not included in this collection.)
STRANGE JEST, one of the Jane Marple stories that is included, uses the very same clever 'hidden' treasure trick as was used in the Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant film, CHARADE. I wonder if the screenwriter read Agatha Christie?