the mysterious mr.quin

Quote It Saturday

Quote It Saturday is hosted at Freda’s Voice.

Add as many quotes as you wish, from whom ever you wish. It can even be lyrics to a song.
Just tell us who it is. Anonymous welcome too.
Don’t forget to Link up at Freda’s site.

Today’s Quotes come from The Mysterious Mr.Quin.

Love can make devils of men as well as angels. – The Man from the Sea.

* Mr. Satterthwaite put away the little set speech he had prepared, and hastily rummaged for sympathy and friendship in the bottom drawer of his mind. – The Face of Helen.

~ Agatha Christie from The Mysterious Mr.Quin


Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!

15th of September, 2011 is the 121st birthday of Dame Agatha Christie, DBE.  Arguably, one of the most famous and prolific mystery writers of all time, her contribution to the detective/mystery genre is indisputable.

Now, it is no secret that I love Agatha Christie’s works! Although Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories first got me interested in the genre of mystery, it was Agatha Christie and her creations that got me totally enamoured with the genre. So, today I will discuss some of my favourites among her creations, both characters and books, as a tribute to her.

“The worst is so often true.”  – Miss Jane Marple

Miss Marple is my favourite Christie detective.

It started with A Murder is Announced (1950), my first Miss Marple mystery. Since then I have read every single Miss Marple novel and short story out there. I love how Miss Marple always assumes the worst about everyone and is always frighteningly right.

The Miss Marple short story collection, The Thirteen Problems (1932) (also known as The Tuesday Club Murders) is my all time favourite Agatha Christie book. My favourite stories from The Thirteen Problems are The Tuesday Night Club, The Idol House of Astarte, The Blood-Stained Pavement, The Blue Geranium, The Companion, The Four Suspects, A Christmas Tragedy and The Herb of Death. The Idol House of Astarte and The Blue Geranium creeps me out. I remember reading The Idol House of Astarte while riding the bus with chattering class mates and I still felt a chill go down my spine. The Blood-Stained Pavement is a predecessor to Evil Under the Sun. The usage of the language of flowers thing in The Four Suspects was very interesting.

A close second is Sleeping Murder (written in the 40’s, published in 1976). The story with its themes of suspicion and jealousy and tacit hints of something even more forbidden feels ahead of its time. The atmosphere of the home where it all takes place is creepy to say the least.

“I do not approve of murder.” – Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot is perhaps Christie’s best known detective. I love his little idiosyncrasies and the way he sometimes pretends to be more ‘foreign’ than he actually is.

My first Hercule Poirot was Lord Edgware Dies (1933).

My all time favourite Poirot mystery is Cards on the Table (1936). I love this book because this has Mrs. Oliver joining forces with Poirot for the first time and Colonel Race & Superintendent Battle, two minor Christie detectives, come together with Poirot for the first and the last time. The impossible setting of the murder also is another major reason I love the book.

“You believe in a life after death, do you not? And who are you to say that the same wishes, the same desires, may not operate in that other life? If the desire is strong enough – a messenger may be found.” – Harley Quin

A strange mixture of mystery and supernatural, Mr. Harley Quin, is perhaps the most unusual of Christie’s creations.

Even though in her autobiography Agatha Christie mentioned that Mr. Quin and his friend Mr. Satterthwaite were her favourite creations she wrote only 14 short stories featuring Mr. Quin. 12 of those were collected in the book The Mysterious Mr.Quin. As a collection of short stories, The Mysterious Mr.Quin is exceptional. The plots of the stories are quite nondescript at times but the presence of Mr. Quin makes reading The Mysterious Mr.Quin worth while.

“Are you happy? If not, consult Mr. Parker Pyne.” – Parker Pyne

I believe Parker Pyne has been extremely neglected by every one. I really like his stories because they have a certain warmth to them.

There are a total of 14 Parker Pyne stories of which I loved The House at Shiraz (1933) and Death on the Nile (1933) (a short story, not the Hercule Poirot novel of the same name) from the collection Parker Pyne Investigates (1934) the best.  Interestingly, Hercule Poirot’s secretary Miss Lemon started out as Mr. Pyne’s secretary. Poirot’s friend Mrs. Oliver also makes an appearance in one of the Parker Pyne stories. A nice link between the two detective’s worlds.

“Who was whistling Three Blind Mice?” – Sergeant Trotter, The Mousetrap

I love reading plays in general. Among Agatha Christie’s plays my favourites are And Then There Were None (1943), Appointment with Death (1945), The Hollow (1951) and of course the legendary The Mousetrap (1952). Interestingly, all of these plays feature people who are trapped somehow. And Then There Were None, The Hollow and The Mousetrap both have a group of unlikely characters stuck unwittingly in an isolated house while Appointment with Death features a family suffocated by their menacing family matriarch.

Finally, I would like to wish Agatha Christie a very Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday Ms Christie! Thank you for making me happy and comforting me with your wonderful cosy mysteries when I need it the most!

The Mysterious Mr.Quin by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Mr.Quin is a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie featuring the ever elusive Mr. Harley Quin. It was first published in the UK by William Collins & Sons in 1930 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later that same year.

Mr. Satterthwaite, an elderly urbane gentleman, has always been a mere spectator in the drama of life. But one fateful night his role as a simple observer is challenged as an enigmatic man enters his life. That man is Mr. Quin, a friend of lovers, an otherworldly presence. From that night on Mr. Satterthwaite, with overt and covert inspiration from his mysterious friend, wanders the twisted labyrinths of the human heart.

In her autobiography, Agatha Christie mentioned that Mr.Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite were her favourite creations. Surprisingly, there are only 14 short stories that feature Mr. Quin. 12 were published in the present volume and 2 other stories (The Love Detectives and The Harlequin Tea Set) were included in Problem at Pollensa Bay. One would think that a favourite character would re-appear more often than that. Mr. Satterthwaite was luckier. He appears in a full length novel, Three Act Tragedy (1935), which is a Poirot mystery. Although in Three Act Tragedy Mr. Satterthwaite seemed somewhat listless without his shadowy companion.

The book contains 12 intriguing short stories.

They are, The Coming of Mr. Quin, The Shadow on the Glass, At the ‘Bells and Motley’, The Sign in the Sky, The Soul of the Croupier, The Man from the Sea, The Voice in the Dark, The Face of Helen, The Dead Harlequin, The Bird with the Broken Wing, The World’s End and Harlequin’s Lane.

Among these stories my favourites are The Coming of Mr. Quin, At the ‘Bells and Motley’, The Man from the Sea and The Dead Harlequin.

The association between Mr. Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite is a unique one. Mr. Quin helps Mr. Satterthwaite see things in a different light. He often shows things that cannot be seen with the naked eye, revealing and solving mysteries in the process. He is a friend of lovers and the problems are often not problems at all but subtle difficulties that may lead to great misfortune. Mr. Satterthwaite on the other hand, has an expert eye for seeing these subtle problems and delving in to his past experiences to solve them. But Mr. Satterthwaite is almost nothing without Mr. Quin. Mr. Quin gives him that gentle nudge he needs to go in the right direction.

Mr Harley Quin is almost definitely a supernatural being. He comes and leaves without any explanation. He may appear at the edge of a cliff or in an empty train compartment. It is interesting to note that in the first story The Coming of Mr. Quin he is somewhat enigmatic but not obviously magical. But as the book progresses there is a definite trend of him growing more and more mystical. By the final story, Harlequin’s Lane, he becomes a near shadowy presence, an almost terrifying phenomenon.

The book moves amazingly swiftly. Even though I tried my best to linger on, I finished it within a very short time.

The stories themselves are nothing exceptional. Frankly, the earlier stories are better than the latter ones. I was quite unhappy after reading the last story, Harlequin’s Lane. There is something disturbing about it.

The plots of the stories maybe quite nondescript but the presence of Mr. Quin makes reading The Mysterious Mr.Quin worth while. An exceptional creation by Christie. Definitely recommended.

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Five Best Books: Unconventional Heroes

In this week’s 5 Best Books we are asked to list our Five Best Books: Unconventional Heroes. Now, I for one love unconventional heroes. People who are not what they seem, who are insignificant in the eyes of the world but try to live their lives with dignity or become heroes inspite of adverse situations are heroes in my book.

.1.   Charles Chipping from Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton – Mr. Chips is a mild mannered, very average man but he more than once rises to the occasion and shows courage. I especially love the scene where he reads aloud a list of the school’s alumni who have fallen in the battlefield. In spite of objections from everyone, he includes the name of a former master who died while fighting for the opposing side. He chooses to remember the man as a friend and not as an enemy; he decides to remember the friendship they once had.

2.  Severus Snape from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling – Even if Cassandra hadn’t mentioned him in her post, I still would have put him on my list. Ever since the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something unusual about the man. Of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, proved what a complex character Severus Snape was.  If ever there was an unconventional hero, Snape is the one.

3.  David, the policeman from A Kiss for Cinderella by J. M. Barrie – The character of the policeman is so unlike a romantic hero. He is an unimaginative, unromantic man. He couldn’t possibly understand ‘Cinderella’s imaginary world. But all the same he sympathizes with her and even ends up saving her life. His love for the poor, plain looking, possibly unbalanced ‘Cinderella’ makes him one of my top unconventional heroes.

4.    Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – A deeply unhappy alcoholic of a dubious character, Sydney Carton ends up overshadowing the more conventional hero Charles Darnay.

5.  Mr Harley Quin from The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie – One of the more unusual and underrated creations of Agatha Christie, Mr. Quin, is a friend of lovers, an otherworldly presence. He comes and leaves without any explanation, appears at the edge of a cliff or in an empty train compartment. He never does anything concrete but helps everyone in a most subtle way. A strangely unconventional hero, in my opinion.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from a book I read only a few months ago and already I want to read it again. It is The Mysterious Mr.Quin  by Agatha Christie.

“She was standing quite close to them by the holly hedge, gazing with horror-stricken eyes, and holding something in her right hand.”