Agatha Christie mysteries always provide an intriguing cast of characters that are so lively, you can picture them sitting across the table from you. The sense of place is another wonderful feature of these novels, and nowhere is that more pronounced and remarkable than in this book - At Bertram's Hotel.
I found this to be a different kind of mystery with some interesting characteristics. The book certainly held my interest, but surprisingly not because of the plot, which I find okay. For me, this was a slower, more disjointed, and meandering plot and mystery. There are a number of places where I thought the story could have been tightened up and better focused, but it is a charming one still. What really struck me and has stayed with me is the sense of place. Bertram's Hotel is an enigma - a place out of time. As the world has sped up and sped by, it is an oasis of old-fashioned traditions and values. It is remarkably unchanged and has become a popular spot for those people, now elderly, who knew it from years gone by, as well as tourists seeking a taste of authentic and original London. However, as we all know, time touches on everything. Bertram's Hotel may seem unchanged on the surface, but as you peel away the layers, and peer behind the veil as it were, all is not as it once was. To remain a place suspended out of time, other things must change, and change they have. There is the core of the mystery of this book.
Only through the keen observation of Miss Marple, her notice of the minutest of details, do we get to uncover what is really going At Bertam's Hotel. There are very sinister goings-on, but there is also a larger social and societal shift underway, one that left me with a distinct melancholy for what is sometimes lost to time, and a sadness that we cannot stop it from happening. A thought-provoking and worthy read.
Rai Aren, co-author of Secret of the Sands