Mrs. McGinty's Dead — Agatha Christie [Book Review] [Spoilers Second Half]

hi everyone
we have now another installment in
agatha christie’s aircraft series and
here she’s sticking with her habit of
basing her story titles on nursery
rhymes although mrs mcginty’s dead is
not a nursery rhyme i’ve ever heard and
probably not one i’d recommend telling
your young kids either this novel is the
next one after taken at the flood which
if you saw my video of that you’ll know
it was among the worst plural mysteries
i’ve read to date and i don’t think i’m
alone in that sentiment luckily i
enjoyed mrs mcginty’s dead more than
that one although not as much as i’d
initially hoped but we’ll get to that
as always with my agatha christie
reviews i’m going to keep it spoiler
free for the first half and then after
i’ve covered all the territory i can
there i’ll let you know so we can get
into the really juicy parts for those of
you who want to stick around not that
there’s all that much worth spoiling in
this novel mystery wise though because
the mystery in this novel is a mess
sorry again i’m getting ahead of myself
but let’s just

start out with what i
really did appreciate about mrs
mcginty’s dead first of all poirot
in contrast with some of the other
recent installments like the hollow and
taking out the flood where the central
characters are those involved in the
murder case and prairie just turns up
later to do some sleuthing in mrs
mcginty’s dead aparo is front and center
from the very start honestly i don’t
mind the ones where parham plays more of
a side role but if you’ve ever been
disappointed in a plural novel to find
that poirot’s role is so much to the
side that his character doesn’t even
come through that is not the case here
maybe even more than in some of his
earliest cases narrated by captain
hastings in this case we really get to
follow poirot’s train of thoughts and
exploration and peer into his order and
method of course the only place where
this really falls short is that as
always pro toys with the police and
readers only giving us little bits and
pieces of what he’s thinking until the
big reveal at the very end so in this
case it feels a little bit more awkward
since we’re so close in on the action
and yet it feels like paro’s hardly able
to offer us anything but some clues that
in this case are just as likely to
mislead the reader as to help us in
addition to paro we also have the return
of the crime writer ariadne oliver who
arrives in town and basically serves as
paro’s double on this case miss oliver
first appeared in cards on the table but
here as she’s no longer a potential
suspect but rather an unquestionable
accomplice to paro she really shines a
lot more even funnier is how miss oliver
often serves as sort of stand-in
character for agatha christie herself
even going as far as to make jabs about
her own detective characters fen in a
way that maybe allowed christie to vent
her own frustration with her
best-selling character poirot with whom
she’d apparently grown less fond of over
the years but he was so popular that she
basically had to keep writing him but
seeing miss oliver and paro tag team
together to solve this crime is great
fun and it simply wouldn’t have been the
same if it was a poirot solo mission
even though he still remains the star of
this show what isn’t grey fun though is
the mystery plot i’m still not going to
get into spoilers yet by the way
but actually this was really
disappointing because the murder
initially had some unique elements and
christie also introduced an interesting
premise early on in the case so it’s a
village murder mystery like
other recent ones but it feels more
along the lines of what’s normally in a
miss marble mystery than a puaro mystery
as far as i know though i’ve only read
one miss marple but this this is what
i’ve heard and a country house mystery
is nothing all that special and we’ve
seen it before
we also have an interesting question
raised early on as to whether the murder
was committed is specifically with the
attention of eliminating the victim who
didn’t really seem to have any known
enemies or instead to frame the man to
whom all the evidence pointed this
question though is pretty soon set aside
and just ignored leading us to assume
that it was resolved but also wondering
why it was even raised in the first
given that it plays almost no role in
the end and you see that’s the big
problem with this mystery there are so
many lines of reasoning so many
possibilities opened up that rather than
leave you sometimes slightly down the
wrong track but also get your mind
thinking about the right stuff instead
these leaves will just run you around in
circles till you’re dizzy and can’t even
remember who’s who anymore because
there’s just so much information to keep
track of and most of it utterly useless
like another thing about this case that
was initially really interesting to me
was when poirot early on finds a clue
that it’s a newspaper cutting with four
old photographs of women with unsavory
pasts involving murder or at least very
suspicious circumstances and here
chrissy basically makes us readers a
promise that someone in the village must
have been recognized as being one or
more of these people or at least somehow
very closely related to them and i’m
going to give christy credit there this
is a creative premise uh different from
things she’s done before which is
getting harder to do given that she’s
written so many mysteries now and
although i’ve complained in the past
about how unsatisfying it can sometimes
feel when at the end of the book someone
is revealed to be a totally different
person than who we thought they were the
case of mistaken identity without
sufficient warning
here it works much better because
christy is telling us up front look
there is a mistaken identity maybe even
more than one mistaken identity you just
need to connect the dots a really
exciting premise but then one that
totally fails in execution we’re
constantly being fed information about
what’s important can we rule out any of
these four people can we trust the
personal stories that were told in the
newspaper clipping and on and on but
unfortunately rather than make it clear
to us readers what
can be trusted and what’s fair game to
be unreliable i was repeatedly left
throughout this book with an impression
that simply nothing we’re being told is
reliable which isn’t all that fun
because unlike in a more successful
poiro mystery where we’re made to feel
clever for figuring out certain little
things all while we were being tricked
about the more important things in this
novel i wasn’t even proud of the things
that i did figure out because it simply
felt like blind guesswork rather than
real deduction and thus when i looked
through some reviews on goodreads after
finishing the book i was unsurprised to
find a lot of people agreeing that the
mystery was not nearly as strong or
enjoyable as the other aspects of the
story like the characterization and the
setup and even just observing para up
close for once i will take this
opportunity though to bring up one
redeeming quality which is that even if
you aren’t crazy about the solution at
the end this probably isn’t going to be
one of those stories where you’re
utterly disappointed in the solution i
mean christy has a lot of good mystery
solutions but also some that are pretty
far out there and there must have been
at least one or two para mysteries where
i thought my solution was as believable
or even more believable than the one
juara offered this is not one of those
but it’s kind of because by halfway
through the book i could already tell i
wasn’t even gonna bother making a
serious guess at the murderer any leads
i had come across at one point had
already been discussed and shot down by
paro and very early on at that finally
although some people liked observing the
characters i can’t say these ones were
anywhere among my favorites of
christie’s a few of them really came to
life except when they were doing things
that just made you want to whack them
over the head you see these aren’t
characters who you really like that much
and i say that as someone who even often
finds rotten nasty conceited or
otherwise awful characters to be
interesting and well written these ones
though are more of just a pain than
anyone deliciously hateable okay though
enough of that before i start the
spoilers i’ll just wrap this up by
saying i did enjoy this book for its
potential and it had its strong moments
but it really fizzled out by the end i
found myself towards the start of the
book thinking this would be a really
good premise for a short story but we’re
gonna get a full length novel of it but
to my chagrin it should have stayed a
short story it’s worth a read if you’re
a big paro fan but it’s not one of the
first 20 part run novels i recommend i’m
going to start the spoilers now so if
you don’t want to see that section i’ll
give you a minute to pause and escape
all right i really don’t have too much
more to say about this one because i
already covered most of the stuff i was
thinking about in a vague way within the
spoiler-free section and unfortunately i
was able to say most of the stuff i
liked about the book without giving
spoilers so this part is just going to
be me complaining about the mystery
setup and solution i mentioned that i
didn’t even have a guess at who the
murderer was because well
okay i will say it seemed like there was
a lot of evidence presented that
implicated mrs wetherby so i felt like i
was supposed to suspect her and i kind
of did except also i really didn’t think
it could be her based on some of the gut
feeling or maybe just the fact that
christy pointed too hard at her towards
the beginning of the story
i mean we learned that she had a lot of
photos in her house that mrs mcginty had
rummaged through while cleaning and then
ms edward makes a reference to those
photos later which
may have just been a lie from what we
learned about ms upward later there are
hints about mrs whether it be his past
and then the murder weapon was obtained
from her house though in another
convoluted exchange with differing
testimonies about when it took place
oh yeah and this is an aside but we
later learned that this murder weapon
was just sitting out at a place where
anyone could have taken it and passed
unnoticed so the whole question of the
weapon and who possessed it was just a
wild goose chase entirely and it was a
random person who came and took it not
to mention the resemblance to the means
of murder used by lily gamble who one of
the other women in the four uh original
yep also another total coincidence total
red herring and that mystery of the four
photographs in the newspaper boy what a
disappointment that was for me you see i
think christy just got too complicated
with this for example i actually did
guess at one point i bet evelyn kane’s
child was a boy and not a girl since
paro was so clear in establishing the
point that something was inaccurate
about the bio of these four women but
that’s the thing where rather than
making me feel clever and like i was
onto something this realization that the
child didn’t even have to be a girl at
all just made me think at a point where
i was already having trouble keeping
track of the possibilities gee it really
could have been absolutely anyone then
we have nothing to go off of i will say
though that although i’m finding it hard
to imagine someone piecing together this
mystery by anything more than guesswork
if you did manage to figure it out i
think this piece could have been a
really important clue that the child
could have been a boy even so though i
may have missed other evidence of this
but i wouldn’t say that there was
positive evidence that led me to think
the child was a boy i basically just
concluded this was likely because that
would be misleading which of course
probably isn’t the way detectives of
order and method should be doing their
sleuthing okay so as i think i’ve harped
on more than enough by this point
this mystery is just really complicated
but i have more the suspects in the
novel who are the suspects i mean we
know some people who are definitely
suspects but throughout this book i was
a little unsettled by two characters who
too far from the center of attention to
have really been satisfying for me if
they’d turned out to be the murderer
but also appeared too frequently to be
ruled out completely one of those being
a woman who hears all the village gossip
and would have had ample opportunity to
read anyone’s mail the village post
woman mrs sweedeman and the other being
maude williams who of course there was
no good reason to think that she would
be the murderer of mrs mcginty
yet she was being pretty shifty the
whole time and then in the last few
pages we’re told that she in fact did
show up with a pistol at the victim’s
house on the night of the second murder
intending to possibly shoot someone
i guess summing it all up maybe this
plot is a good case study for mystery
writers because it’s a demonstration of
why some amount of constraint in the
ministry is needed a mystery is more
satisfying when there are just a few
different main possibilities each with
its own ambiguities and each with maybe
a few false assumptions that are
eventually disproved or challenged with
a surprise ending that fits within the
realm of possibility but just beyond
what the reader was thinking here though
there were so many possibilities that i
simply failed to keep up but i don’t
know maybe i’m just getting old let me
know what you did like about this book
especially if there were aspects of the
mystery plot that you really liked
because i know there are plenty of
people out there that enjoyed it and if
you’re watching this video at all
there’s a decent chance that you’re one
of them
until next time happy reading

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