Monday, May 2, 2011
Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
The personal ad posed a simple question: Are you happy? If not, consult Mr. Parker Pyne. The answer is a resounding no for a jealous wife who suspects her husband of infidelity...for a lonely widow driven to assume a new identity...for a distraught mother whose son has been kidnapped...and for the fiance of strangely reclusive bride-to-be. But what sort of detective would solicit in the personals? The sort who has a knack for investigating affairs of the heart. For therein lie the darkest motives for murder. And they are proving most lucrative for the hopelessly romantic - and highly suspicious - Inspector Parker Pyne.
I can't remember when I read this book for the first time, but I know I was in middle school, maybe 5th grade. Back then there wasn't enough action for me to keep me interested. I wanted mysteries that involved lots of dead bodies and nefarious plots by overly active evil doers. For the most part those are not the cases that Mr. Parker Pyne takes.
This is a collection of 12 short stories that run the gamut from a wife wanting her husband back and it working out to a husband wanting his wife back and the same game blowing up in everybody's face. My favorite story (non murder of course) involved a rich bitter woman who just wanted something to do with her money. She was a widow and unhappy with life because she thought having all the money in the world would make her happy, it didn't. Instead she was miserable and bored with life. By the time Parker Pyne is done with her, a year has gone by, she's poor and planning a new marriage. At first she was annoyed by the trickery involved, but then she realized she had never been happier. These are the types of cases that take up the first 7 stories.
The final 4 all revolve around actual crimes, murder for the most part though a jewel theft and kidnapping is involved in the last story. What I found interesting is that Parker Pyne doesn't react to those cases any differently than those that strictly involve human relationships. He views them all the same, solves them the same, and ends up with the same results.
Like Harley Quinn, Parker Pyne is one of Agatha Christie's more fascinating protagonists. They are both unique characters that some how manage to stay in your mind long after you read the very few books about them. I wish she had written more than she did. Since she didn't, the few books she did write about them will have to mean all that much more. I love the uniqueness she brought to Parker Pyne, I could only wish that other authors could match up to her talent.
Challenges: M&S, VM