This is supposed to be a Miss Marple mystery, but she hasn’t turned up yet. The main character in this novel is Jerry Burton.
More people are getting anonymous letters. One is Beatrice, the maid that they had hired, and the letter insinuated that Jerry and Beatrice had something going on. So her mother decides to stop her from going to work for Jerry and his sister, and the cook agrees with the decision. Yet, a few days later Mrs Baker, the girl’s mother, comes to see Jerry, and she tells him that the young man who her daughter is seeing also got another later, saying that Beatrice was going with another man. Mrs Baker asks Jerry to do something about the situation, and when Jerry tells her that what she could do is go to the police, the woman is not convinced, and after she leaves, Jerry feels that he has disappointed Mrs Baker somehow.
We get to know other characters in the book. The family who are central are the Symmington. Mr Richard Symmington is a lawyer and his wife Mrs Symmington has a daughter by her first marriage. This girl, Megan, who is twenty, has a difficult relationship with her family as she feels that she is like an interloper. Mr and Mrs Symmington have two sons, and Megan, who is a bit peculiar and acts younger than her years, thinks that her mother doesn’t like her very much because she reminds her of her father, who didn’t treat her mother very well when they were married. Megan, though, has hit it off with Jerry, who listens to her and doesn’t dismiss her like others do.
Another character is Elsie Holland, who works as a governess for the Symmingtons. When Jerry first sees her, he thinks that she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, but when she talks to him, he realises that she is quite simple, and his beauty is not so outstanding.
The local doctor, Owen Griffith, is also an interesting character, and Joanna thinks that the man doesn’t like her. She has noticed that he has intentionally crossed a street to avoid running into her, and when she comes to the house to see her brother, he acts as if she isn’t there. I think that Dr Griffith likes Joanna too much, and that is the problem because he might be too shy.
Dr Griffith lives with his sister, Aimee Griffith, who is a bit pushy in her relationship with others. She is involved in all the associations and committees of the town, and she is proud of her busyness. The vicar’s wife is also another character that is worried about the letters and shares her concerns with Jerry. We don’t know if she will have a more important part later in the novel.
Now we have the death that we knew would take place. The person who dies is Mrs Symmington, and apparently, she committed suicide after she got an anonymous letter. According to Dr Griffith, they found a ripped paper which had three words on it: ” I can’t go on”, and they found an envelope which was very similar to those used by the anonymous sender. Apparently, what the letter contained was a hint that one of her sons wasn’t her husband’s. Dr Griffith tells Jerry that the woman was battling some mental issues, and he thinks that her depressive mood and the letter she received must have sent her over the edge.
Poor Megan is shattered, and when Jerry and Joanna tell her that she can stay with them, Megan is happy despite the circumstances. We can imagine what she is going through. If when her mother was alive, she felt she didn’t fit in, now that she is dead, she must feel very lonely. Her stepfather doesn’t seem to be the most affectionate man.
I wonder what will happen next. I can guess that Mrs Symmington didn’t kill herself, but someone else murdered her. How will they realise that she hasn’t committed suicide? And when will Miss Marple turn up?