New Book – The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

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Publishing year: 1932

This is the second Miss Marple book.

This time it is not a simple mystery. On this occasion Miss Marple is with a group of friends/acquaintances. There is her nephew, Raymond West; Joyce Lempière, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, a magistrate; Dr Pedler, a clergyman; and Mr Peterick, a solicitor. Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries, and the conversation leads to Joyce coming up with the idea of all of them coming together every Tuesday to explain some case that the others have to solve, which she calls “Tuesday Night Club”.

The first mystery comes from Sir Henry. He talks about three people taking ill after dinner, a married couple Mr and Mirs Jones, and the woman’s companion, Miss Clark. Mrs Jones dies, and the others recover. At first, there didn’t seem anything untoward, but when talk about the improper friendship between Mr Jones and the doctor’s young daughter start an investigation ensues. Mrs Jones’s body is exhumed and they find remains of arsenic, so her death wasn’t accidental. Nobody knows how the woman was poisoned since the three of them ate the same: canned lobster and trifle. The police thought that she could have been poisoned as the maid Gladys mentioned Mr Jones prepared a bowl of cornflower for his wife and took it to her in her bedroom. Yet, Miss Clark confessed to having drunk the bowl herself despite being on a diet.

None of the people in Miss Marple’s living room are able to come up with an explanation, but Miss Marple surprises everyone. She realizes that it is the maid Gladys who was in cahoots with Mr Jones. The man seduced her, and he convinced her to add arsenic in the hundreds and thousands of the trifle. Since Miss Clark was on a diet she wouldn’t eat it, and Mr Jones would simply push aside the sprinkles and that was why he wasn’t poisoned. Sir Henry admits that Miss Marple is right. Gladys confessed to the crime a few days ago after having Mr Jones’s baby. The man deserted her after his wife’s death, and Gladys decided to confess when she knew she wouldn’t survive labour. What is not clear is how Mr Jones and Miss Clark got sick after eating. Did he or Gladys put something in the food to make all of them sick?

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