My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the second time I tried this book and, having learned from the first time I tried it that it wasn't really, by any stretch, a mystery, or even a thriller, or even a book with a relatable plot, I had better luck this time.
Apparently this is the last book Christie wrote. She didn't write it, though. She dictated it. There are some theories that she was suffering from dementia at this point in her life.
All that makes sense based on the words on the pages of this book.
Talky, talky, talky. Rambling conversations that go nowhere, only to have a version of that same conversation repeated 12 pages later by the same two characters.
I really have no idea what happened. Or who any of the characters are, save for Tommy, Tuppence, and Albert. Some of the characters seem to be overlap from A Passenger to Frankfurt which is, by all accounts, Christie's SECOND worst book, after this one.
Tuppence is still Tuppence. "He worried about Tuppence. Tuppence was one of those people you had to worry about. If you left the house, you gave her last words of wisdom and she gave you last promises of doing exactly what you counseled her to do: No, she would not be going out except just to buy a half a pound of butter, and after all, you couldn't call that dangerous, could you?"
Tommy is still Tommy. When someone asks how he is, he replies, "Much the same as I always was. Cracking. You know. Decomposing by degrees."
And everyone they talk to seems to be well past their personal prime; "One always seems to get talking about one's old pals and what's happened to them all. When you talk about old friends, either they are dead, which surprises you enormously because you didn't think they would be, or else they're not dead and that surprises you even more. It's a very difficult world."
Things that Christie might have edited out, or never written in the first place, in her earlier books, elevate themselves to a level of charm that is more likely to be found in the stories of your elderly relatives than in a published book. As Tuppence is dissecting and discovering a "clue," (though what that clue actually means is anyone's guess, frankly) Tommy's confusion is amplified in the dialog in a way that an editor might have cut.
"'Grin-he-Lo,' said Tuppence. "We've been reading it the wrong way around. It's meant to be read the other way around.'
'What do you mean? Ol, then n-e-h--it doesn't make sense. You couldn't go on n-i-r-g. Nirg or some word like that.'
'No. Just take the three words. A little bit, you know, like what Alexander did in the book--the first book that we looked at. Read those words the other way around. Lo-hen-grin.'
I mean, you'll never get that 30 seconds back. But do you want them? If you do, don't read this book.
There's a James Taylor song with the lyrics "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time," and I enjoyed passing the time with this book. It's not a GOOD book, but it's a comfortable one. Tommy and Tuppence are "elderly" (I have a real difficulty with Christie's timeline with these two...how old were they really in each of their outings?) and play the doddering old fools quite well. They have a dog named Hannibal, who gets his own chapter, even, in one of the weirdest tangents in print. Christie's ramblings are an insight into her childhood; barely veiled reminiscences about her childhood home and her family. Reminds me of how sad I am that I didn't record conversations with my grandmother, when she would go through old photos and tell me stories. I don't remember nearly as much about those conversations as I wish I did.
View all my reviews