The Idol House of Astarte

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So last month I reviewed the first of The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“The Idol House of Astarte” from The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Next to share a mystery is Dr. Pender:

Dr. Pender is the reverend and says he only has one story to share. The story takes place on the edges of Dartmoor, the property was beautiful but had been on the market a very long time.

Hmm…

It was eventually purchased by Sir Richard Haydon, an old friend of Dr. Pender. It had been years since they had seen each other, but they reconnected and he invited Dr. Pender down to Silent Grove, as his recently purchased property was now named.

At the party was Richard, his cousin Elliot Hayden, Lady Mannerling, her daughter Violet Mannerling, Captain Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Symonds, and a beautiful, society woman Miss Diana Ashley.

Richard was extremely attracted to Diana, and Dr. Pender saw that this whole party was a setup-a setup to bring her down and woo her.

The house was solid Devonshire granite on the moor with weatherbeaten Tors. There were also relics of the Stone Age which Richard likes as his hobby was antiquarian matters.

The moors.

They are walking around the grounds, but Dr. Pender doesn’t like it. Something feels off.

Richard notices it and tells him the grounds used to be the Grove of Astarte-otherwise known as Ishtar or Ashtoreth. In the middle of a clearing is a stone summer house, which Haydon calls The Idol House of Astarte-The Goddess of the Moon.

Diana wants to have a wild orgy party, out in the moonlight in the sacred grove. To dress up fancy and celebrate. Nobody else likes it, but Diana.

That night they decide to dress up in Fancy Dress, and all dress up. Rev. Pender is a monk, Richard a Phoenician sailor, his cousin Elliot a Brigand Chief, Lady Mannerling a hospice nurse, her daughter Violet Mannerling a Circassian slave, Captain Rogers and Mrs. Rogers were Neolithic hut dwellers, Dr. Symonds a chef, and Miss Diana the “unknown”

After dinner they all go outside. After a while they realize that Diana is missing.

Violet Mannerling says that she saw her go to the idol house, so they head over there. When they get there they spot her in gauze with two crescent moons coming out of her hair.

I am the priestess of Astarte,’ she [Diana] crooned. ‘Beware how you approach me, for I hold death in my hand.”

Richard goes up to her, he tells her she is beautiful but wants her to stop.

“Stop,’ she [Diana] cried. ‘One step nearer and I will smite you with the magic of Astarte.”

Richard laughed and went closer, when something strange happened. He stumbled and fell. And he did not rise.

Okay, stop playing.

On closer examination, by Elliot, it appears Richard is dead! Afterwards, Elliot looks at his hands-weird.

They examine Richard, and it appears he was stabbed by a long thin dagger, but they could not find one. Diana faints, believing she is at fault, and all go back to the house.

Elliot decides to go back to the grove. The police come and at seven o’clock, they realize Elliot never returned. They then find him stabbed!

When questioned, Elliot says that he was at the Idol House and felt something was watching him. He then felt a cold wind, and tuned around and saw a small figure of the goddess. The figure seemed to grow larger and larger-then he blacked out.

Is someone trying to kill the Haydon? Or is it supernatural?

Thoughts After Reading:

This one wasn’t my favorite out of the series, but it was still very well written. I kind of knew the ending but I wasn’t sure how it was done.

Hmm…

For more on The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more Miss Marple books, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip

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