The Thumb Mark of St. Peter

So I have been reviewing short stories from 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 Thumb Mark of St. Peter” from The Tuesday Club Murder 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 and call it: The Tuesday Night Club. 

On the case!

Our sixth mystery is from Miss Marple herself, so you know it is going to be really good.

I’m so excited!

About ten or fifteen years ago, her young niece Mabel-a very silly girl-at age 22 married a cruel and horrid man, Mr. Denman.

She asked Miss Marple to stay with them a few times, but Miss Marple hardly ever saw Mabel after the wedding.

Hmmm…

Ten years go by and Mr. Denman died suddenly. There were no children, so Mabel inherited all the money. Mabel sent her a sensible letter regarding the death, which didn’t surprise Miss Marple as the marriage was not a good one.

Three months later, however, Miss Marple receives a distraught letter, begging her to come right away. So she dos.

When she arrives she sees old Mr. Denman, who was physically fit (although his eyes were failing) and he is “not quite right in the head” and not upset about his son’s death. Mabel on the other hand is a mass of nerves.

No one will see or speak to her, all ignore her, because they think she murdered her husband.

Now Miss Marple knows her niece, so she knows that cannot be true at all…but the cards are stacked against her:

  1. Mabel and Mr. Denham fought a LOT, and even had an argument the morning he passed.
  2. Mabel purchased arsenic that morning, she said she wanted to kill herself but changed her mind.
  3. The cook made mushrooms that night, and thought a few were peculiar, could a few bad ones have been snuck in? Who better to kill him than his wife?
  4. When Mr. Denham was sick and gasping for his last breath, Mabel left him and went to her room.

Miss Marple asks if he said anything before he died and Mabel said the help said he said something about a heap of fish or pile of something.

Miss Marple decides the only thing to do to answer the questions of murder is to do an autopsy. So they do and the reveal is…there was no trace of arsenic but also no known reason why he died? Who or what killed him? Did he kill himself? What is the answer?

Thoughts after Reading:

This was a great mystery, and a hard one-I could not figure it out. This is on par with the hundreds and thousands one.  (Solution below). Still:

For more Agatha Christie, go to Motive v. Opportunity

For more from The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Blood Stained Pavement

For more Miss Marple, go to Ingots of Gold

For more short stories, go to Cat Crimes

I found this online when I was looking around, crazy right!

Death Wears a Beauty Mask

Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Thoughts Before Reading:

Mary Higgins Clark wrote this book way back in the ’70s, but never finished it as she wasn’t sure how to end it. She shelved it and went on to write what would be her first book and bestseller, Where Are the Children?

Years later, she took another whack at it s here we are.

Janice Broad hasn’t seen her older sister, Alexandra, in forever. They used to be so close with Janice raising her after their mother died. Then Janice moved to New York City and started her modeling career and their time together grew less. When Janice moved to the LA area for college their time shrinked smaller still.

Now Janice is married and she and her husband, District Attorney Mike Broad, are heading to spend a week of their honeymoon in London and then a week with her.

Yay! Sisters back together.

When they get to the airport, Janice isn’t there. Nor is she at her apartment, and no one knows what happened to her.

They start questioning the men who are hounding her-first Grant Wilson, her agent. Alexandra was the face of a new line, Beauty Mask, but had been having troubles. The company producing Beauty Mask was making them do constant redos, over and over again. Alexandra looked bad and tired.

Grant had been after Alexandra to marry him but she kept saying no. He thinks that she will be sing yes soon, but then she just disappeared. Now he needs her redo the Venice shoot or else the company goes belly up as Beauty Mask won’t pay up without perfection. He says he has no clue to where she is. Could it be he did something because she kept refusing him?

They then see Larry Thompson, photographer. He has known Alexandra from way back. He hates Grant Wilson and never wanted Alexandra to sign with him. He says ever since she’s joined his company, Wilson has just overworked her and worn her out.  Larry tries to make it be that they are just friends, but he seems more interested, and to me extremely bossy, then just as a friend. He is also known to have a very short fuse. Could he have exploded on Alexandra? Or been angry if she could have refused him?

Mark Ambrose is the man who owns the plane that chartered the models and Beauty Mask. He too was another man interested in Alexandra and she too spent time in Venice together. He was supposed to give her a ride to her apartment, but then Alexandra disappeared. Hmm…what happened in Venice or the airport that made her change her mind?

Hmm…

As the couple investigates, they get in a car accident, who did they talk to that felt uneasy?

Then they find out Alexandra got the time wrong and was in the same cab as them and went back to the apartment. But when they get there they found out she has been strangled to death, her face covered Beauty Mask.

But when they do the autopsy, they discover that it isn’t Alexandra, but Lisa Markey, Alexandra’s friend. What happened to Alexandra. Is she alive? Dead? Where is she?

Thoughts After Reading:

Good, really well written until the reveal that the only reason the person was trying to kill Alexandra was because they wanted beauty mask to fail to make money.

That’s it?

A bit of a letdown for me.

But other than that I thought it was really good. I liked that she didn’t go overboard on the characters. But kept the cast short and focused.

And there was this cute little salute to her other novel as if you listen to what Alexandra hears on the news, there is a little snippet about Clark’s first book Where Are the Children?

At one point the detective says I should have known who it was because _________, and I was like facepalm! Duh, I should’ve known too!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Where Are You Now?

For more modeling mysteries, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more disappearing sisters, go to The Night Sister

For more mysterious honeymoons, go to Death by Honeymoon