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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Book review #18 - The Man in the brown suit



Title: The Man in the Brown Suit
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: The bodley Head, Pan books,1924
ISBN: 978-000742244-9
Length: 384 pages


Plot

Anne Beddingfeld, a young English woman recently orphaned, longs for adventure and jumps at the chance when her father's solicitor suggests she lives with him and his wife in London. Returning from an unsuccessful job interview, Anne is on the platform at Hyde Park Corner tube station when a man falls onto the live track, dying instantly. A doctor examines the man, pronounces him dead and leaves, dropping a note on his way. Anne picks up the note which reads "17.1 22 Kilmorden Castle".
The inquest on the dead man, 'L. B. Carton', brings a verdict of accidental death. In his pocket was a house agent's order to view a house for let – The Mill House in Marlow – and the next day the newspapers report that a dead woman has been found there – strangled. The house is owned by Sir Eustace Pedler. A young man in a brown suit is identified as a suspect, having entered the house soon after the dead woman.

My thoughts

I didn't know this book before but was glad to discover a yet different type of murder mystery by my favourite author Agatha Christie!! In all the books I've read of her, she had always staid clear of any emotional turmoil. Even in "The secret adversary" with Tommee and Tuppence, the relationship was not very mature and quite childish.
In this case, we, not only, find that Ms Christie can also write about feelings and marriage but from a 2012 "Londoner"(-by adoption) point of view, it certainly is a romantic old fashioned one! 
A man proposing to a woman after one day of meeting and a few hours of chat just because it would be good for his and her situation seems a normal occurance. Or falling in love with a perfect stranger and wanting to marry him seems totally normal in the 1920's whereas - in my time ie the 90's - such behaviour would be more a sign of teen years and crazy love that no-one would really act upon! Of course, in 2012, I'm sure children do, even before they reach teenager status (or teenager status is acquired at a younger age)... Which is, in a way, sad. So this book reminds you of the old principles... Such as you fall in love or you agree to marry, you marry and then you do all sorts of things behind closed doors... lol - Not the other way around!
The extracts I chose below reflect the author point of view on relationship in the 1920's.
As for the story, I have to say it was complicated! I sometimes lost track of clues and evidence against one or another! Like the identity of the man in the brown suit, how did she find him? And what were the clues that told her that he wasn't the killer???? I got lost there!!!
I found it very exciting to have two narratives, one from Anne and one from Pedler. I have to say, I was suspecting a big twist and wondered many times if the murderer wasn't this nice Pedler, just because it would be the biggest twist to explain and make sense of. So I wasn't surprised at all at the end. All the other characters had been made under suspicions one time or another, which is usually a sign of innocence. The behaviour of Colonel Race and Rayburn were strange and confusing. I knew for sure it wasn't Pagett, that would have been too obvious, although I don't understand why he was following Anne! And I still don't know - or I forgot - why and who was surrounding the island trying to kill them? 
So all in all, a complicated but enjoyable story! I wouldn't mind to re-read it to understand it all 100%. Also that would give me a different perspective on Pedler's narrative!

Extracts

"They were nomadic, you see. It wasn't till they settled down in communities, and women did one kind of thing and men another, that women got weak. And of course, underneath, one is still the same-one feels the same, I mean- and that is why women worship physical strenght in men: it's what they once had and have lost"
---- It is one theory!

"You think you admire moral qualities, but when you fall in love, you revert to the primitive where the physical is all that counts"
---- I think we can all agree on that! Luckily, as time goes by, moral qualities are what's important!

"Successful husbands make their wives do just what they want, and then make a frightful fuss of them doing it. Women like to be mastered, but they hate not to have their sacrifices appreciated. On the other hand, men don't really appreciate women who are nice to them all the time. When I am married, I shall be a devil most of the time, but every now and then, when my husband least expects it, I shall show him a perfect angel I can be"
---- Now, replace husbands by wives and wives by husbands, and it's still true ;)

My verdict

****(not 5* just because it didn't get everything 100% - is it me or my preggo brain, I don't know!!)

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