This is one of Christie’s murder mysteries I enjoy and which shows Agatha Christie’s cleverness.
Two more deaths happen in Chipping Horton. The first one is Bunny’s. She is poisoned after celebrating her birthday with Letty and her neighbours. After the celebration, she has a headache, but when she doesn’t find her bottle of aspirins, Letty tells her to have one of hers. So when Dora is found dead, everybody assumes that the intended victim was Letty, and Dora was just unlucky.
The second person to die is Amy Murgatroyd. The day of the hold-up she was behind the door, so she was the only one who could see everyone. Finch presses her to remember, and little by little she does. However, Finch is phoned to pick up a dog from the station, and when she is driving out of the farm, Amy remembers somethings, and she keeps saying “She wasn’t there”. Suddenly, it starts raining and Murgatroyd rushes to pick up the laundry. Then she is met by someone who, using a scarf, suffocates her to death.
The end of the book is a trap set to catch the killer. Craddock gathers the people from Little Paddocks as well as Edmund and Mrs Swetenham and Colonel and Mrs Easterbrook. Some truths are uncovered. Before this meeting, Letty discovered that Julia Simmons is not who she claims to be when the real Julia Simmons sends a letter to Letitia Blacklock. Actually, the young woman is Emma, Randall’s sister’s twin daughter, and when she met Patrick and told her about visiting Letitia Blacklock, she thought she could meet her and try to get in her good books as she was penniless. In the meeting, Pip comes forward. It is Philipa Haymes, and she had the same idea as her sister. The two young women hadn’t seen each other since they were toddlers as their parents separated and each one took a daughter and they didn’t keep in touch.
During this meeting Mitzi appears, claiming that the day of the hold-up Letitia Blacklock was outside in the corridor as she had a look through the lock. Everybody ignores her, and when she is alone in the kitchen, Letitia tries to kill her by pushing her head into the water in the sink. Then the police arrive and arrest her.
After the shock, Miss Marple, Craddock, Bunch, Emma, Philipa, Patrick and Edmund get together, and Miss Marple and Craddock explain the motives and how Letitia Blacklock killed Rudy, Dora, and Murgatroyd. The story goes back years when Letitia Blacklock decided to leave her job to look after her sister Charlotte when their father died. The man was a doctor, and Charlotte had struggled with a deformity all her life. The deformity was simply goitre, but her father didn’t believe in surgery to remove the deformity. When he died, Letty took Charlotte to a clinic in Switzerland where she was operated on. It was there where Rudy worked. Then some time later Letitia died unexpectedly. She and Charlotte had been making plans when Letty inherited Randall’s money, but with Letty’s death Charlotte felt she had been stolen of something that belonged to her. So she decided that she would be Letitia from now on.
She returned to England and settled down in a village where nobody knew her. Then she got a letter from Dora, and since she had been very fond of her friend, she agreed to help her, and Dora didn’t see anything wrong in what her friend was doing. Her situation was threatened when she ran into Rudy, who recognised her as Charlotte and not Letitia. Rudy started coming to her, and Letty/Charlotte gave him money, but according to Miss Marple, Rudy never contemplated blackmail because he didn’t know truly what Charlotte had done. Yet, she felt threatened, so she told him about the murder game she had planned with some friends, and Rudy agreed to help her, placing the advertisement and coming to Little Paddocks that night.
When Letty went out to shut the fence for the geese, she let him in. Then when the clock chimed 6.30 and everybody’s attention was on the clock, Letty spill the water from the vase of violets in the frayed cable of the lamp, so all the lights went out. In the darkness Letty slid through the supposedly dummy door and came behind Rudy. She shot twice, and when Rudy turned round surprised, she shot him dead. After that, she simply returned to her place and nipped her ear so she could bleed and pretend that one of the bullets had grazed her.
She also killed Dora when she became too untrustworthy. The woman kept calling her Lotty for Charlotte, and then the day Dora was talking to Miss Marple in the tearoom, Miss Marple realised that when Dora was talking about Letitia Blacklock, she seemed to be talking about two very different people, and then she mentioned that the lamp that was in the living room was part of a pair, and the strange thing was that the night of the hold-up she had seen the one depicting the shepherdess, and not the shepherd, which was the one that was in the living room the next day. Letty overheard her when she came, and she decided that Dora could spoil everything and had to go. So on her birthday she arranged everything so that Dora could have a wonderful last day, and then she took Dora’s aspirins so that she had to borrow one of the aspirins she had poisoned.
With Murgatroyd, she also overheard her talking to Finch about the night of the hold-up. When Finch went and Finch started saying ‘She wasn’t there’, Letty knew that she had been found out, so she decided to kill Murgatroyd then and there.
I really love the plot of this story. At the end of the novel Philipa Haymes and Edmund get married whereas Julia aka Emma decides to take the place in the actors’ company that the real Julia had abandoned. Now the two young women inherited their uncle’s money, and justice was delivered as Letitia/Charlotte Blacklock was stopped and apprehended.