Reader reviews for 4:50 from Paddington

The 7th in the Miss Marple series (of the novels; I don't count the collections of short stories here), one of the better ones I've read so far. Actually, I have read all of these eons ago, but it's been so very long, I've quite forgotten them all. So I'm rereading them and it's like reading for the first time. I liked this installment, and I'm looking forward to finding the dvd so I can see it played out.A Mrs. Elspeth McGillicuddy is returning home after a long shopping day and takes a seat in the first class section of the train. She falls asleep for a while, wakes up, and as she does so, a train passes by on a parallel track. She looks up just in time to see a man strangling a woman, but she only sees him from the back. She reports it to one of the train conductors, but he thinks she's imagined it -- after all, when he looks at the magazine she's reading, right there is a picture of a man strangling a woman. She writes down the info, however, and turns it in at the station when she arrives. Her next stop is to Miss Jane Marple, to whom she relates the story. Of course Miss Marple believes her, and does some sleuthing of her own, after the papers fail to report a dead woman left on a train. Finally figuring out where the body could have been dumped from the train, Miss Marple hires a young housekeeper to take a position at Rutherford Hall, which lies close to the train tracks at the very spot where Miss Marple deduces the body may have been ditched. From there, it's a case filled with motives, red herrings, and suspects. I did not guess the murderer at all, which always pleases me. Recommended.
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One of the classics -- I've probably read it two or three times, since as Ogden Nash once said, "One Christie book is as good as a lib'ry." Other than Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, I can never remember whodunit!
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This late Miss Marple novel is a fine one. One of Miss Marple’s matronly, clear-eyed friends witnesses what can only be a murder on a train running parallel to her own. No one takes her really seriously except Miss Marple, but who better to engineer a subtle investigation that roots out the sordid truth of this crime?Christie is in fine form here, with a classic manor house setup, a trio of unsavory brothers filling out the suspect line, and a good surprise ending that’s not too contrived. Recommended.
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Deadly TrainspottingIn 4:50 From Paddington all the elements that made Agatha's writing so remarkably effective are on display in full force. Suspense builds; characters are interesting, but not too complicated to be confusing; clues are sprinkled throughout; and, perhaps most importantly, Miss Marple is an active presence, rather than a peripheral observer as we've so often seen her lately.4:50 From Paddington was first published in 1957 and originally appeared in the United States under the title What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!. Frankly, I prefer that rather jaunty title; and so that's how I'll refer to it from here on out.And what, exactly, did Mrs. Elspeth McGillicuddy see when she was traveling by train back to her home in Milchester after a day of Christmas shopping? As another train comes alongside and runs parallel to hers for a few moments, she looks out her compartment window and sees…Standing with his back to the window and to her was a man. His hands were round the throat of a woman who faced him, and he was slowly, remorselessly, strangling her. Her eyes were starting from their sockets, her face was purple and congested. As Mrs. McGillicuddy watched, fascinated, the end came, the body went limp and crumpled in the man's hands.It's that word "remorselessly" which Agatha inserts in almost an off-hand fashion, that illustrates just how brutal and determined her killers can be. This murderer is no exception; by the time the book has run its course, bodies will be littering the landscape.Mrs. McGillicuddy immediately reports the murder to the train's ticket collector. Then, when she's disbelieved, she hails a porter and tells him to inform the local constabulary of the crime on the other train. By Chapter 2, she's sitting at Jane Marple's hearth telling her all about the deadly episode of trainspotting. Jane Marple, she knows, will believe her. After all, "Everybody in St. Mary Mead knew Miss Marple; fluffy and dithery in appearance, but inwardly as sharp and as shrewd as they make them." If Miss Marple can't make something out of nothing, then no one can.The two old ladies decide to wait for an announcement about the discovery of the body to appear in the local papers. When nothing hits the press, they tell the police about the incident, but they're still greeted with raised eyebrows and mild skepticism. As one inspector says, "I dare say it's just make believe—-sort of thing old ladies do make up, like seeing flying saucers at the bottom of the garden, and Russian agents in the lending library."Without a body, who can prove a crime has even been committed? Inquiries at the train companies prove equally fruitless.Miss Marple sticks by her friend, determined to get some proof that there's truth behind What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. Through a clever bit of mathematics and engineering, Miss Marple determines the precise spot along the route where the killer could have conceivably tossed a dead body off the train before it pulled into the station.It's at this point the novel takes a decisive leap forward into the typical patterns of a Christie investigation. On the one hand, you have the police who are initially bemused and skeptical; then there is the amateur sleuthing that takes place, each chapter adding more and more characters to the list of suspects; eventually, Scotland Yard stops smirking and pursues the case with all official fervor and bluster; while dear dithery Miss Marple quietly solves the mystery by paying attention to the small details of human behavior.For this case, Miss Marple enlists the aid of a younger and spryer version of herself to do the actual legwork and gather the clues. Lucy Eyelesbarrow is a smart, sassy girl who has earned a reputation for being one of the best freelance domestic laborers in all of England. "Once she came into a house," we're told, "all worry, anxiety and hard work went out of it." Miss Marple hires Lucy to plant herself in Rutherford Hall, the gone-to-seed estate near the spot where she determined the body must have been tossed. Lucy insinuates herself into the Crackenthorpe clan and is soon doing a good job dusting, cooking, eavesdropping and poking around old, dusty barns.The Crackenthorpes are the typical dysfunctional family we find in many of Agatha's novels. There's a miserly, cantankerous patriarch; there's his long-suffering and devoted daughter who never married; there's the renegade artist son just in from Spain; there's the stuffy son who's a respected financier; there's the ne'er-do-well son who leads a double life; there's the widower of old Crackenthorpe's daughter who was killed several years earlier; and there's the family doctor who also has a tender eye for the spinster daughter. They all have motive (MONEY!) and opportunity (SHAKY ALIBIS!) and they all rotate in and out of the Prime Suspect Number One slot as Lucy gathers clues and feeds them to Miss Marple.Part of the intrigue in What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw is the fact that initially there's no evidence of a crime. And then, once a body is discovered at Rutherford Hall, no one is able to identify the dead woman. This is the big question mark which looms over most of the book-—not only do we not know how the murder was carried out, we don't even know who was strangled (or, indeed, if the corpse is the same one Mrs. McGillicuddy saw through the train window). There are certainly some shady goings-on in the Crackenthorpe family, but Agatha strings us along for most of the novel with what could feasibly be unconnected events.By the end of What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, all the tumblers are clicking into place in Miss Marple's mind...."I have been wondering whether it might perhaps be all much simpler than we suppose. Murders so often are quite simple, with an obvious rather sordid motive...."At this point, you'd think the murderer would be buying tickets on the next train out of town. But of course that doesn't happen; besides, that would spoil all our fun of watching Miss Marple tighten the noose around the neck of the killer.
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I was sooo close to figuring this one out!The mystery takes a little while to get rolling. I had to put it aside a couple of times. It took until about page 70 for the story to pick up.
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This is the second book that I've read in the Agatha Christie summer reading challenge. In this novel we find that Miss Marple's friend has witnessed a murder on the opposite train when the two trains were crossing paths. She only got a brief glimpse and so she cannot identify the murderer or his victim. From these tenuous beginnings Miss Maple is able to puzzle out the solution to the mystery. She is joined on her quest by Miss Lucy Eyelesbarrow who is a professional domestic servant and amateur sleuth. Lucy is a really fun character and I really enjoyed reading about her. The thing I especially love about these mysteries is the timeless quality to them. While some things in them are old fashioned the murders themselves never are. I think you could take the case in the this story change the names and come up with something that happened recently. I love Miss Marple and look forward to exploring more. For now I am off to investigate another Agatha Christie character, Hercule Poirot. I hope to finish Three Act Tragedy in time for the airing of the Masterpiece Classic movie this Sunday.
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Just finished listening to this one and I still enjoy it!Mrs. McGillicuddy was going to visit her friend in the country when she witnesses a murder in the train next to hers. Trouble is, no one believes her. And when no body is discovered, they all conclude she's one of those batty old ladies with more imagination than sense.All except her friend, Jane Marple. Miss Marple knows her friend has very little imagination and a high regard for the truth. So she sets off to discover a body.
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Classic Ms. Marple -- what's not to love?
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What's not to like about Agatha Christie mysteries? I especially like the Miss Marple ones. I like it that one can only guess who is the murderer, because of the last minute facts that are presented to the reader. Of course I always do- and I guessed correctly! (Maybe I'm reading too many Christies?) Like other reviewers on LT, I took a great liking to Lucy Eylesbarrow.
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When I was in my late teens/early twenties I read all Christie's I could find, and I was lucky to find almost all of them, so this, more than twenty years later, was a re-read, which did not matter at all. The pleasure was still there, and I knew there will be a surprising turn out at the end, although I was not sure in which direction. Why do so many people love reading Christie's novels? Hard to say, but I think that one element is the lack of the really dark, evil and gruesome elements. Trying to find out more about a murder is almost like getting ready for a picknick - everyone is having fun in the process, which naturally includes the reader. And when everything turns out all right in the end and the wicked are rightfully punished, the life in the countryside can continue to unravel peacefully...
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