Publication Date: October 1976
Length: 224 pages
Well I can hardly believe it but this is my last review for Read Christie 2023. I am feeling quite accomplished as it was my goal to participate and blog about at least one Agatha Christie book each month, preferably the one for the challenge, and I did this. I only had two books that I didn't get to and for those I read alternates.
Gwenda Reed, newly married and looking for a place to settle down with her husband Giles, is thrilled to have found a house on the coast of England that seems to fit their life. It is called Hillside and as they settle in, Gwenda oddly discovers that she has lived there as a child. The strange coincidence is even more bizarre when she realizes she may have witnessed a murder committed in front of her as a small child. Because both her parents are dead, she has precious few people to consult as to where these memories come from and why. Giles, loving husband that he is, agrees to help her unravel the mystery, along with Miss Marple, who has been drawn into the story after meeting the couple earlier and is now visiting nearby and staying with friends.
The murder centers around a woman named Helen. At first, Gwenda doesn't know exactly who she is. But she has a violent memory of a "Helen" being strangled and her witnessing it. The more they dig, Gwenda and Giles find out that Helen was Gwenda's stepmother and they begin to fear it was Gwenda's father who murdered her. Giles puts out an ad seeking knowledge from anyone who might know Helen's whereabouts and it is answered by her brother, a Dr. Kennedy who lives nearby. After meeting with him and others they find involved in Helen's life story, Gwenda and Giles are more confused than ever. They and Miss Marple have a lot of detective work to do to find out if Helen was indeed murdered at all or whether it was just the overactive imagination of a young Gwenda.
I really enjoyed this one. Normally I haven't been a big fan of the Miss Marple stories as I find they are a little slower paced and sometimes the detailed storyline just isn't there as much. But this one really had me guessing and I definitely did not figure out the resolution ahead of time. Even at the last second before the big reveal I was sure I knew and was completely wrong. That made for a great ending. Miss Marple had quite a bit of involvement here and she has some great discussions about her thoughts and the why behind the crime. There were some psychological elements that made it interesting also, and family dynamics that were meant to be disturbing and shocking. It is the last novel for Christie, published after her death, and I think so far it is my favorite of the Miss Marple series.
It was a great way to end my year of reading Agatha Christie for 2023!