The Moving Finger, takes place in a small English country town, like many of Christie’s novels do. The Arrival of Jerry and Joanna Burton, a brother and sister from London, coincides with the start of threatening letters, accusing the townsfolk of awful things. When the death of a prominent woman is linked to the letters, Scotland Yard is alerted as well as a somewhat famous private eye. Jerry does his best to uncover the truth before someone close to him becomes the next victim.
I read Stephen King’s short story of the same name a year before I read Christie’s novel and while I didn’t expect the same kind of horror as King’s, I was surprised at the different kind of Horror Christie’s Moving Finger portrayed and how small minded people are easily suspicious of one another. The setting is thus ideal, a scandalous letter writer would be pretty much forgotten instantly in a big city, but small towns, which carry big secrets are much more susceptible to this kind of terror.
While I enjoyed Miss Marple’s cameo in the story, I’m glad it stayed just that. Not that I don’t like Miss Marple, but it’s more this feeling that I have that it seems in the stories centered around her, that without her the town would descend into chaos and the culprit would remain at large. She is after all, just another person, so I was glad that while influential to the capture of the letter writer, it relied also heavily on others like Jerry to capture the bad guy. While it may seem incredibly simple, as Miss Marple points out near the end, Christie’s writing fashion is intricate enough that at some point anyone seems capable of being the evil doer. By the time the letter writer is caught, everything is explained and there are luckily no loose ends; so you won’t keep up at night thinking about things that made no sense after you finished the book.
While I enjoyed And Then There Were None just a bit more, if you’ve never read any Agatha Christie books, this one is a wonderful place to start. It’s short, like most of her novels are, and keeps you interested throughout the entire narrative.
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