‘Mrs. McGinty’s Dead’ by Agatha Christie is a typical murder mystery set in the English countryside. The book has all the components that you generally find in Christie’s mysteries. You will find an intriguing murder with a number of suspects. There are twists and turns. There is your favorite Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot to solve the case. The needle of suspicions will move from one character to another, and finally the main culprit will be revealed. However, this mystery will not leave you dumbstruck at the end as is generally the case with a number of murder mysteries written by the mystery queen. Yes, this is not a mystery that I would rate higher than three stars. The storyline is filled with a number of colorful characters. However, instead of making this story more intriguing, too many characters make it a complex read. You take a long time to get acquainted with these characters. And, more importantly, a number of these characters do not leave any sort of impression on you. Nevertheless, the points raised by me do not make it a bad book. It is still an interesting read.
‘Mrs. McGinty’s Dead’ is the murder mystery of an ordinary charwoman, who used to clean houses and take in lodgers for her livelihood. A widow of sixty four years of age, this charwoman is found murdered in her cottage parlour. Her lodger ‘Mr. James Bentley’, a terribly unappealing lump of a man, is convicted for the crime. The murder appears to be a simple case of killing for money. However, the inspector associated with the case is not convinced. To him, the case is not as simple as it is turning up. And, here appears our popular Belgian detective, who puts his grey cells to work and the case becomes complicated, probably too complex. Now, it becomes a multifaceted case of lies and hidden identities. Mrs. Adrian Oliver, the lovable mystery writer, also appears on the scene and helps Poirot to find out several important clues related to the case. The light on the real culprit is thrown at the end, and finally the threads of this complicated mystery are entangled.
While the book fails to impress you, the novel can be noted for its wit and comic details. Some of the lines in the book are really hilarious and will certainly tickle your funny bones. Mrs. Oliver’s observations on the life of novelists writing detective novels are not only amusing, but also throw light on Agatha’s own dislike towards her popular Belgian detective. At a later stage of her career, Agatha Christie had started to find Poirot ‘insufferable’ and ‘ego-centric creep’ and these views can be seen in a number of her writings. Mrs. Oliver’s hatred towards her own creation in this book can be taken as an example of such writings. In fact, in a way, Mrs. Adrian Oliver represents a version of Christie herself.
Agatha Christie is known for writing well-woven complicated mysteries. However, the book under review becomes too complicated to satiate you. And, in the end, you are left with a feeling of disappointment.