This is one of Christie’s earlier works, first published in 1925. It’s got pretty much everything: blackmail, a missing diamond, political intrigue, master criminals, secret passages, murder, kidnapping—everything. The plot is convoluted, ridiculous, and some threads are left dangling. It’s also utterly entertaining, especially if you’re in the mood for something ridiculous and you picture the cast of the Clue movie in all the roles. At least, that was my experience.
I adored Anthony and Virginia, and Superintendent Battle too, though he didn’t get much page time and spent most of it being inscrutable. I’d love to see a big or small screen adaptation that follows the book and doesn’t shoehorn Miss Marple in there. Battle doesn’t need her help.
‘Detective stories are mostly bunkum,’ said Battle unemotionally. ‘But they amuse people,’ he added, as an afterthought. ‘And they’re useful sometimes.’
‘In what way?’ asked Anthony curiously.
‘They encourage the universal idea that the police are stupid. When we get an amateur crime, such as a murder, that’s very useful indeed.’