So we should be reviewing a Christmas mystery, but…
I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday! So we are taking a quick break from Christmas to review this
“The Blood Stained Pavement” from The Tuesday Club Murder by Agatha Christie
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 the answer to and call it: The Tuesday Night Club.
Our fourth mystery is shared by Joyce Lempriére, artist, and is one of my favorites in the collection.
This happened five years ago, when Joyce was visiting Cornwall, in a little village called Rathole. Joyce was getting ready to paint a scene when it was interrupted by a car and couple.
A man and a plain women get out, but thankfully get back in and move the car up. Unfortunately, as they do, another car drives up in the spot-ruining the view Joyce wished to paint.
The woman-in bright red chintz frock and large straw hat gets out but drives a bit up. Then Joyce overhears the three people greeting each other as the man in the couple, Denis, knows the scarlet woman, Carol, and introduces her to his plain wife-Margery.
Joyce doesn’t mean to, but as she paints she overhears their conversation. They all decide to go bathing, swimming in the USA, but disagree on how to get to a famous cave. After much deliberating, Denis and Margery would boat around and Carol would walk around the cliffs and meet them there as she hates boats.
Hearing them talk about painting, made Joyce want to as well-as she has grown hot and dissatisfied with how her painting has turned out. She decides to take a break and return after a swim.
She returns that afternoon, noticing that the group from earlier must have returned as well as she notices a dark blue swimsuit and a red on hanging out to dry at the Inn the group was staying at.
Something is off about her picture, and Joyce isn’t sure what…
When she looks up she notices a Spanish man in seafaring clothes and paints him into her picture. After she captured him on the canvas, he came over to speak to her and tells her a story of when the Spanish attacked in the 15th Century, speaking of blood-blood being spilt on the pavement and no being able to wash the stain out.
As he was talking Joyce continued to paint and realized that as she painted she painted in blood stains, drops of blood on the pavement…blood that it seems only she can see as her companion can not.
Joyce quickly starts to put her things together as she needs to leave that spooky space, she and her companion are interrupted by the man from earlier, Denis. He asks them if they have seen Carol, while his wife clears the clothes from the balcony.
Both Joyce and her companion say they have not seen Carol, and the man yells up to his wife that Carol isn’t here and they need to get to Penrithar-driving off in the car.
Meanwhile, Joyce goes to the street and looks for the blood she saw but finds…nothing.
Her companion sees her looking for the blood and shares an old Cornish saying: “If anyone sees those bloodstains that there will be a death within twenty-four hours.”
As Joyce was heading to the cottage she was renting she spots the red hatted and clothed Carol coming down the cliffs…red like blood.
It would have been a bit of fancy, except two days later Joyce read about a “Sea Bathing Fatality”. Mrs. Margery Dacre, wife of Captain Denis Dacre, drowned at Landeer Cove. They were staying at the hotel when she went swimming, while her husband golfed as he felt the water was too cold. When she didn’t return he became worried, and he and his friends went searching for her. A week later they discovered her body, and that she had a bad blow on her head, probably hit her head on a rock swimming. The estimated time of death came out to be 24 hours after Joyce saw the swimsuit.
So of course this The Tuesday Club Murders, but how was Margery murdered and why?
Thoughts After Reading:
I love this mystery as it has the spookiness of what Joyce saw paired with the logical truth of what Miss Marple figures out. I could see this as the basis of a film.
For more Agatha Christie, go to Ingots of Gold
For more from The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Idol House of Astarte
For more Miss Marple, go to The Tuesday Club Murders
For more short stories, go to The Strength of Their Attachment