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!
“Motive v. Opportunity” from The Tuesday Club Murder by Agatha Christie
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.
Our fifth mystery is from Mr. Petherick, solicitor.
A wealthy client, “Simon Clode”, had a son who passed away during WWI and ended up caring for his granddaughter, Cristobel. Cristobel was the light of his life and gave him renewed life and vigor.
Cristobl passes away.
The only family he has left is his brother’s late children-Mary, George, and Grace. They are older when they come to live with him-Grace getting married to Phillip, George working in a bank, and Mary caring for the house and Mr. Clode-with each one receiving a third of the estate in the will.
Everything is fine until Mr. Clode becomes enthralled with a spiritualist, Mrs. Eurydice Spragg, who speaks to Cristobel. Mrs. Spragg and her husband move into the manor and do readings every night-Cristobel “begging” Mr. Clode to take care of the “dear” Spraggs.
Petherick becomes worried as Mr. Clode is getting very old and sick and could fail at any day-and Petherick doesn’t want him taken by a charlatan. He suggests to Phillip, the son-in-law, to hire a celebrated professor of Spiritualism to come to the home and determine whether or not Spragg is a liar. Phillip does so, but unfortunately the professor can’t make a firm decision whether she is real or fake.
Mr. Clode grows very ill and calls Petherick to write him a new will. £5000 would go to each of his relatives, and the rest to the Spraggs. Petherick tries to discourage him, but Clode won’t listen. So they call the servants up to witness-one pulls the fountain pen he always uses and writes the will. Petherick seals it in a blue envelope. Clode starts coughing and he helps him, the maid handing him the envelope that had fallen down and he places it in his pocket.
He then is stopped by Mary who invites him to tea. He leaves his coat and a chair and when he goes to get it before he leaves, he spots Mrs. Spragg tooling around near it. When he put the coat on, the envelope had fallen out and he picked it up and left.
When he got to his office he took the envelope out and placed it on the desk. From there he got a call and while his office line was out of order went to take the call in the outer office. When he returned, he was told by a clerk that Mr. Spragg was waiting in his office he had been there for some time.
Two months later, Mr. Clode passed away. Petherick gathered everyone for the reading of the will and when he opened the envelope and pulled the will out-it was just a blank piece of paper.
Petherick is confused as to what happened as he witnessed everything. He runs over the events but is even more puzzled. The people with motive had no opportunity and the people with opportunity had no motive.
The maid or Mary had the most motive, but no opportunity to change it. Th maid had it for a second, and she couldn’t have pre-made it and switched it as she had no clue what the envelope would look like, Petherick brought it with him and it was blue, not something one would have laying around. The only one who could would be Mrs. Spragg, but she wouldn’t want to switch it as she was the inheritor.
How did they do it?
Thoughts after Reading:
This was a great mystery, although the first one I figured out in the whole book. (Solution below). I still:
For more Agatha Christie, go to The Blood Stained Pavement
For more from The Tuesday Club Murders, go to Ingots of Gold
For more Miss Marple, go to The Idol House of Astarte
For more short stories, go to What Strange Creatures