“The Moving Finger” is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books because not only is it a classic whodunit of classic Christie proportions but it’s also an extremely sweet love story with some brilliant characters.
Poor Jerry Burton is a Royal Air Force pilot who has been shot down in action in the Second World War. Ordered to convalesce by his doctor in a quiet countryside backwater he and his sister, Joanna, decide to rent a small cottage in the rural tranquillity of the small village of Lymstock. They soon settle down to the gentle ways of the small village and get to know the local characters; prim and proper Miss Emily Barton (from whom they have rented the cottage) Dr Griffith, shy and devoted to his patients and who seems to have taken a shine to Joanna. Then there’s Dr Griffith’s sister the redoubtable Aimee, hale and hearty and forever trying to organise everyone else. Finally there’s the Symmington family consisting of Richard Symmington the local solicitor, his wife their two sons and their very attractive and young governess Elsie Holland. Mrs Symmington also has a daughter from her first marriage the awkward but somehow charming Megan
All seems to be going well until the Burtons receive a poisonous letter and it would seem that several other of the villagers have also received one or more of these malicious letters. Unfortunately one is sent to Mrs Symmington and it would seem that the contents disturb her so much that shortly after receiving the letter she takes her own life. When shortly after this tragic event the Symmington’s maid is murdered the police are called in and they begin work to find out who is behind the letters.
The local vicar’s wife, Mrs Dane Calthrop also decides to take action and call in an old friend of hers, a petite and frail looking little old lady call Miss Jane Marple.
As I say, not only is the book a classic Christie murder mystery will all the usual ingredients of jealous loves, legacies and social classes but it also has a double love story concerning both Jerry and Joanna Burton. Although the love story seems unlikely and old fashioned when reading it today it still comes over as extremely charming.
Although Miss Marple does appear in the book, she doesn’t pop up until the last couple of chapters so any big fans of hers might be slightly disappointed, but considering the rest of excellent value of the book they have no reason to be so.