Old and new readers of Agatha Christie's whodunnits will not be disappointed with the 1957 puzzler. It has an unforgettable opening sequence, an ingenious denouement, and an interesting sleuth, especially created for the occasion, named Lucy Eylesbarrow. Although it is the elderly Jane Marple who exerts her powers of detection, she does it by remote control while her much younger friend does the spadework - or the domestic work. As Agatha Christie explains, "The point about Lucy Eylesbarrow was that all worry, anxiety, and hard work went out of a house when she came into it." Accordingly, the tertiary-trained domestic, Lucy, is soon installed in Rutherford Hall, where Jane Marple believes a body thrown from a train might be hidden.
Surprises, further murders, gossip, marriage proposals, and poisonings follow in rapid succession, so that before you know it, the hours have sped by, the murderer is revealed, and you admit that once again you were quite unable to guess whodunnit.
Agatha Christie adds to the usual cozy elements of her murder mysteries a heavy involvement with passenger trains, timetables and railway matters so beloved of the British. Otherwise you'll find the book fits into the pattern of the dysfunctional family's struggles being worked out with a particularly stubborn, callous and crusty old man as the family's head.
Feature film and TV adaptations of this novel have been made, the most faithful to the text featuring Joan Hickson who also can be heard in an unabridged reading on audiotapes.