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This is my top favourite of all of Agatha Christie's books, and this reading by the marvellous Joan Hickson is pretty much perfect.

Although this is a Miss Marple tale, she doesn't in fact appear until the last quarter of the book. The story is told in the first person by injured airman Jerry Burton who, accompanied by his sister Joanna, has moved to Lymstock to recuperate in the peace and quiet of village life. But there's no such thing as peace in a Christie village. Spiteful gossip, anonymous letters, jealousy, resentment and murder - not quite what the doctor ordered. However, as always with Christie, there's plenty of humour, likeable lead characters and a little bit of romance. And when the vicar's wife finally calls in Miss Marple to act as an 'expert in wickedness', we know she'll dig the truth out from under the pile of red herrings that Christie has carefully strewn in our path.

Listening to Joan Hickson is like being read to by a favourite grandmother. This is a straight reading - she doesn't 'act' the various parts, but her tone is full of expression and her rather old-fashioned accent is perfect for the period of the novel. Sometimes when listening to an audio book I find my attention wandering a bit - but not with this one. Ms Hickson sucked me in (despite the fact that I know the book so well) and held my attention throughout. She brought out the lightness and humour that make Christie's books such a pleasure and her obvious affection for the book was contagious.

This is an excellent reading of one of the very best of classic mystery novels - highly recommended.
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Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna lease a house in the country to enable him to recover from serious injuries. He has been ordered to lead a quiet life with no upsets. At first life in the village seems idyllic - the locals are friendly and call on the newcomers welcoming them into their circle. Then Jerry receives an anonymous letter which suggests that his sister is not really his sister at all but enjoys a closer relationship to him. It is only when he hears that others have had anonymous letters that he starts to wonder what is going on.

When the wife of a local solicitor receives a letter and is found dead things become serious and the police take a hand. This is a complex mystery and will keep most readers guessing until very close to the end of the story. I loved the characters - especially Jerry, who narrates the story, and his sister; Megan - daughter of the dead woman; the local doctor Owen Griffiths and his sharp tongued and efficient sister. The book is well written and carefully plotted. My only criticism is that Miss Marple doesn't appear until about the last third of the book when she comes to stay with the vicar and his wife.

I think this must be the quintessential poison pen mystery and few authors have tackled the subject with success - Dorothy L Sayers in Gaudy Night being one of the exceptions. Patricia Wentworth's Poison Pen to my mind falls flat when compared with The Moving Finger though it is still an interesting story.
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on 29 January 2006
“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.
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on 14 June 2009
This is the third Miss Marple novel penned by Christie, and it almost seems like it has been tweaked deliberately to include her.

The narrator is a former pilot who is sent to the country to recover after a crash, and is thrown into the middle of the mysterious events, and, this being a Christie novel, the murder.

Miss Marple doesn't arrive until fairly close to the end, and it seems as if she's been dropped in to solve the crime... as if Christie has suddenly decided that none of her characters are bright enough to figure it out. I would have rathered the narrator was able to solve it, as he is by far the real main character of the story.

Overall, this is another good novel - not an extra special one, and if it hadn't been labeled Marple on the spine I probably wouldn't have bought it. None of Miss Marple's thought processes are shown, and it is lacking for that.
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on 7 February 2006
Agatha Christie's Miss Marple has been tremendously well served by Joan Hickson, first on television and now on CD. This unabridged version of my favourite Marple is excellent; JH makes the most of the various characters and the nuances of the plot. Although 'The Moving Finger', like 'Murder at the Vicarage', has a first person narrator (here the injured pilot Jerry), JH takes this in her stride and really conjures up the atmosphere of the village in the grip of the deadly poison pen. Can Miss Marple intervene to prevent more deaths? Is the Pope a Catholic?
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In a forward Agatha Christie provided for a reprint of this 1943 book, she wrote of the pleasure it was to tackle one of the classic themes, and of the great pleasure she found in writing this book with its "cosy village atmosphere and characters".
The classic theme here is the phenomenon of the Poison Pen. The book is one of her shorter mysteries but one of the most cunningly devised. Adept at constructing puzzles, she opts for presenting this one as a first person narrative. The narrator is a young man recuperating from a flying accident, told by his doctor that he must "go and live in the country and lead the life of a vegetable for at least six months". With his sister he rents a cottage in a small English village "of no importance whatsoever".
Accordingly, when the poison pen letters begin circulating, it is this narrator, a stranger to the village, who decribes things as he sees them, retails all the local gossip, and reports everyone's suspicions about the writer of the letters. A murder and an apparent suicide follow, and we read of the efforts of the local police to investigate.
Miss Marple thus is introduced late in the book and, of course, she proves better at solving the mystery than everybody else. You will be an astute and alert reader if you discover whodunit before Miss Marple reveals all.
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on 18 October 2012
For this tale we are taken to the pretty village of Lymstock where the residents live out their lives in the tranquil surroundings of rolling fields, country walks, gentle strolls by the riverbank while unknown to them, behind a twitching net curtain, a killer is quietly at work! This is actually a Marple but she features only periodically and further on into the story. Gerry and Joanna Burton, brother and sister come to rent a house in the village for some peace and quiet after Gerry's flying accident. The owner of the house, old Ms Emily is to stay with her devoted maid in the village and hopes her new tennants will be comfortable during their stay. One by one the neighbours appear leaving calling cards with the grim faced Partridge, the resident housekeeper, which Gerry and Jo find amusing and quaint.The doctors sister, the lawyers wife, the vicars sister and so on which reminds Jo somewhat of the card game, Happy Families. They settle in, join in the village activities and begin to slowly feel like part of the community untill the annonymous letters reach their door. Suddenly life does not seem quite so sweet in this sleepy backwater village of Lymstock. Somehow the smiling faces of their new friends seem a little unsettling, then someone dies, and they are just the first!!Oh I did enjoy this. As baffling as ever, never time to draw breath before someone else dies and changing my mind several times as to the identity of the killer( and getting it wrong again) this was such a fantastic read for me. You really wonder sometimes as to how Agatha came up with these plot lines they are so inventive and completely unfathomable!! This one really is worth a read and if you are new to Christie, you are in for such a treat, enjoy!!
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on 6 November 2008
"Such a peaceful smiling happy countryside - and down underneath, something evil..."
-- The Moving Finger, p. 28

After a wartime plane crash, Jerry Burton's doctor advises him to find a nice, quiet country village and "live the life of a vegetable" to speed along the recuperation process. Jerry and his sister Joanna settle in Lymstock, an idyllic country town that is three miles from a main road. It is a place where, as an astonished Joanna observes, "People really call - with cards!"

Jerry's peaceful, vegetative life in Lymstock is, however, soon shattered. A few days after their arrival, Jerry receives a malicious anonymous letter. The letter alleges that the Burtons are not brother and sister, but an unmarried couple living in sin. Jerry and Joanna are initially quite amused by the novelty of receiving such a letter, but they soon view the letter as a sign of something much more sinister.

All of Lymstock, it seems, has been receiving these letters. When a woman apparently commits suicide after receiving a letter, the search for the writer intensifies. After another character is murdered, presumably by the anonymous writer, a palpable fear settles over the community. Neighbor suspects neighbor and the whole of Lymstock wonders who amongst them could be capable of such despicable acts.

The indomitable Miss Marple makes her first appearance in the last quarter of the novel. For a less skillful writer than Dame Christie, the lack of the primary character could have made this story very tedious for the reader, but Christie's characters are so well-drawn and compelling that the reader does not notice the loss. The primary sleuthing has been done by Jerry and a few of the other residents of Lymstock, but only Miss Marple is able to connect the myriad of clues and bring the killer to justice.

The Moving Finger was originally published in the United States in 1942. For a novel that is over sixty years old, it has aged incredibly well. Agatha Christie's extraordinary understanding of human nature gives her characters and her stories a timeless quality.

One of my favorite Christie novels, The Moving Finger is a compelling read that will keep you guessing until the end.
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on 13 October 2007
I really enjoyed this novel, it was a great read. I was certain I had figured out who the murderer was and I hoped I had gotten it wrong because quite often I am able to guess the murderer in Agatha Christie's books, but however this time I was wrong and the true identity was a nice surprise.

Jerry and his sister Joanna move to the countryside for Jerry's health after a serious injury he received during the war. However it seems that this was the wrong place to move to to get a bit of relaxation because when they arrive they discover that a lot of people have been receiving anonymous letters. Soon Mrs Symmington receives an anonymous letter and apparently kills herself as a result. Soon a proper murder occurs and the police find themself in a complicated murder inquiry. It seems the right idea for one of the villagers to call in some help, and Ms Marple comes along. One problem with this book was that Ms Marple only came in in the last few chapters and she is hardly in the chapters that she is in, excluding the chapter where she cleverly reveals all.

This is a highly enjoyable on and I highly reccomend it. One other thing that I might add is that if you like a bit of romance in her books ( agatha christie doesn't usually bother with this in her books ) this book has got some.
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on 13 October 2011
A series of strange happenings in a small village leads to Miss Marple being invited by her friend to investigate. There is a poison pen letter writer at work and the final straw comes when two local women die in suspicious circumstances.

Jerry Burton moves to the village of Lymstock with his sister Joanna so he can recover from a flying accident. Shortly after arriving they receive a letter containing cruel and untrue rumours about them.

The apparent suicide of Mrs Symmington is blamed on a letter and then another woman is found murdered. Jerry decides to investigate the matter in the hope of revealing who the letter writer is and when Miss Marple arrives they join forces.

You cannot believe how difficult it is to identify the letter writer in such a small village. This is a well written story, trying to work out who writes the letters and why keeps you reading till the end.

As a Miss Marple fan I would have liked her to feature more in the book. She only gets invited to the village towards the end of the book.

Despite Miss Marple not being so prominent in this book it is still a good read. It is another top class Agatha Christie murder mystery.
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