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nemesisI've read about ten Agatha Christie mysteries so far, but Nemesis was my first Miss Marple. Like a favorite fussy grandma, it takes a bit to get around to the point, on both a micro and macro level: the lead character herself can be easily distracted for a page or so by a stray remembrance of a deceased neighbor, a remiss errand, or an unhelpful nurse, while the plot takes a good long time to get into gear. It opens with Miss Marple (at length) noticing the death of a wealthy gentleman with whom she ahd struck up a quick friendship on a recent trip; later, she receives notice from his lawyers that said friend has posthumously requested her assistance, to be repaid with substantial financial remuneration, on a matter whose details remain completely undisclosed. Marple takes the case but remains in the dark, following mysterious instructions left behind by Rich Friend with no clue as to their purpose. Her first assignment is to join a homes & gardens tour group, of all things, and while several of her fellow tourists seem fishy, Marple has no idea what her late friend wishes her to see or investigate.

Eventually, the vagueness becomes a problem; the "what do we do now?" portion of the proceedings extends too long, and when the trip fetches up into Rich Friend's apparent intended destination, the narrative kind of bogs down, as the locale is unintriguing. Meanwhile, keeping track of the twenty or so different tour members is kind of a pain, and I passed much of the beginning-middle section in a miasma, unaware of what was really going on. Matters eventually fall into focus, but while the mystery's not disrespectable, it's a little too easy to figure out what's going on - though modern readers might have an easier time of it than ones contemporary to the novel's 1970 release date. There is a strong scene where Marple, frail and in bed, proves more than the equal of a hale and murderous opponent through sheer inner strength - but there're also bits I gather are de rigeur for late Christie (Hallowe'en Party had them, too) where the author through character surrogates laments on the leniency we have toward criminals ever since that pesky psychology came into the judicial system, or how "girls...are far more ready to be raped nowadays than they used to be". Dammit, Agatha. Nemesis ain't horrible overall (despite the presence of above horrible comments), and one of the paperback covers provided me with a nice icon, but there're better stops you can make on your own Christie tour.

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