The Man in the Brown Suit
Published in 1924
I read this book for the following Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
First, let me specify that I read this book for 2 Reading Challenges, as you can see above. The Around The Word Reading Challenge chose South Africa for the month of January. I had wanted to read more by Agatha Christie, and I discovered that this book was partly taking place in that country.
This is an original mystery, in the sense that it is very witty and funny, a bit à la Wodehouse actually. At the beginning, it sounds really easy, but then the plot thickens, and is suddenly very complex, and you realize there are a lot of things and people involved in a crime that looked originally predictable.
I could not identify the killer until very late in the book, it goes almost without saying, but I had also a hard time figuring really who was who, and I had to re-read part of the book again once I was done. As I still was not sure I had got it completely, I cheated and checked the plot on wikipedia (the article is very good, but of course you should read the book first).
This is not to say that this is a too complicated mystery, but rather to say that I’m really dumb as far as mysteries are concerned – I probably don’t read or watch enough, so that I have a hard time guessing ahead of time; and also to say that this is an excellently plotted book.
If you have not read it yet, you should try it.
As for South Africa, there were some interesting descriptions of the landscape as the heroin discovers it when she gets off the boat.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
How odd, Anne Beddingfeld thought, that the stranger caught her eye, recoiled in horror, and fell to his death on the rails of Hyde Park Underground Station. Odder still was a doctor in a brown suit who pronounced him dead and vanished into the crowd. But what really aroused Anne’s suspicion was when she learned of the doctor’s link to the murder of a famous ballerina, a fortune in hidden diamonds, and a crime-lord embroiled in blackmail. And most frightening of all was the attempt made on Anne’s own life. But she is unable to resist the lure of an isolated mansion that could hold the solution to the bizarre mystery–even if she becomes the next victim… [Goodreads]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.
During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.
On Christmas Eve 1914 Agatha married Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks. They divorced in 1928, two years after Christie discovered her husband was having an affair.
Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During this marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.
In late 1926, Agatha’s husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house Styles in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.
In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie’s death in 1976. In 1977, Mallowan married his longtime associate, Barbara Parker.
Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.
Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, which is in the story collection of the same name, and the novel After the Funeral. “Abney became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.
During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital of University College, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels.
To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, three years after her husband had been knighted for his archeological work in 1968.
From 1971 to 1974, Christie’s health began to fail, although she continued to write. In 1975, sensing her increasing weakness, Christie signed over the rights of her most successful play, The Mousetrap, to her grandson. Recently, using experimental textual tools of analysis, Canadian researchers have suggested that Christie may have begun to suffer from Alzheimer
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