The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie is a collection of 12 short stories. These stories feature the characters of Mr. Harley Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite. Both of these characters try to solve different mysteries in a logical and clever manner. While Mr. Quin plays a major part in solving these mysteries, Mr. Satterthwaite plays a side-kick. Nevertheless, Mr. Satterthwaite is not the usual side-kick. Over sixty years of age, Mr. Satterthwaite is a shrewd judge of character. He has been described as ‘an earnest student of the drama called life’ in the book. In fact, it is his character who occupies a large amount of space in these stories, and Mr. Quin just comes and goes mysteriously in these stories. Nobody knows who Mr. Quin is. However, he is important as it is him who illuminates Mr. Satterthwaite’s thought-process and nudges him towards the logical conclusion of these mysteries.
I found the characters of both Mr. Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite interesting. At the same time, I feel that justice has not been done to either of these characters. This is especially true for the character of Mr. Quin. Very few details have been given about him. He appears mysteriously, helps Mr. Satterthwaite in solving mysteries, and then vanishes mysteriously too. While short stories generally do not give the author a chance to develop his characters fully, some of the personality traits could have definitely included in developing a character in short stories too. Maybe Christie wanted this character to be like this only. Maybe she wanted this character to be shadowy and mysterious. Whatever may be the reason, I would have liked to know more about him. I do not know why Christie did not allow us to know this mysterious person more.
When we turn our attention to the stories in this book, we find that most of these are having a good plot and reach a satisfactory conclusion at the end. Every story has a stirring event or problem that grabs the attention of the readers. Most of these stories are like puzzles with interlocking pieces. Simultaneously, you also feel that a few more pages could have been added to almost every story. This is what I felt after finishing each story. I left with a feeling of incompleteness. Even though a short story has no room for long exposition and there is a certain beauty in incompleteness too, I would have liked to read more.
Agatha Christie loved to do experiments with her writings. This book can be taken as an example of that. Additionally, it is generally said that nobody turns a plot with more skill than Christie. This, according to me, is also true. As can be seen in the stories of this book, she has produced both original and clever stories. Nevertheless, I always feel that her full-length novels are much better than her short stories. This is just a view of mine and other readers have the full right to disagree with me.
I won’t say that this is one of my favourite books of Christie but, in the end, it is a Christie book and one needs to read it. Are you not aware of the mysterious Mr. Quin? Then, be sure to have a date with him.