M is for Murder in the Mews

This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.

M is for Murder in the Mews

Barbara Allen lies dead of a gunshot wound. Her lifeless body is discovered by her roommate, Jane Plenderleith, who has just returned from the country. She immediately calls the police who in turn inform Japp who brings in Poirot. Poirot hunts around in wastebaskets, sniffs the air, observes the writing bureau and leaves assured that not all is what it seems. Why is the pistol in the right hand of the murdered woman when the bullet hole is on the left side of her head? Was it murder? Who could have done it? Could it be the roommate? Jane Plenderleith is described as a “cool, young woman” who is well in control of herself. But then why is she afraid to show her briefcase to the police? Why does she throw the briefcase away the first chance she gets. Could the murderer be Ms. Allen’s fiance, the pompous Charles Laverton-West M.P., whose alibi for that night is shaky. Could it be the mysterious Major Eustace, who Ms. Plenderlieth calls a “doubtful customer” and who is seen leaving the house that night.

Murder in the mews appears in a collection of three novellas – Dead Man’s Mirror, Murder in the Mews and Triangle at Rhodes and was first published in 1937.  The story is typical Christie with a number of red herrings, rather curious behavior by Poirot and a smug Japp, all neatly wrapped up in a very British mystery. Just right for reading with your afternoon tea and biscuits.

Fact of the week that might interest only me – Did you know that Agatha Christie has written nearly 25 books/novellas/short stories that start with M and that’s not counting the ones that start with The or A?

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16 responses »

  1. Peter – A fine review of a very interesting entry into the Christie collection of short stories – thanks!I like the compassion that Poirot shows in this story actually. And I like the way we learn about the two women (Barbara Allen and Jane Plenderleith) through the eyes of others. As you say, too, plenty of “red herrings” and an interesting twist, Christie-style.

    Reply
    • Thanks Margot. You’re right about compassion. Christie manages to highlight Poirot’s sense of right and wrong without making him look pompous or officious like he is in many other situations.

      Reply
  2. I’ve got this, but haven’t read it yet, so I’m glad you haven’t given anything away! I think her novellas are more satisfying than her short stories and this one looks to be good. I have a feeling I might have seen a TV version?

    Reply
    • Margaret, I like her short stories as well. It’s like a constant stream of the things that make Christie so good. And there is definitely a TV version starring my favorite Poirot – David Suchet. There is very probably more than one film adaptation.

      Reply
  3. I read this novella, long time ago. I had forgotten all about it. Your post made me want to re-read it. Agatha Christie is ALWAYS worth revisiting…

    Here is my CFA: M post

    Reply
  4. I really liked that novella. I should read it again soon.

    AC must really like the letter M or her favourite word starts with M – MURDER!

    Reply
  5. Nice review! I so love Christie. Thanks for the little M trivia too:)

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  6. Another good choice from way back when. 🙂

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  7. I always enjoy a review of an Agatha Christie book (or novella in this case), and this is a good one — the review I mean. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. I hope this is not too heretical but personally I am less keen on Christie’s short stories as a rule though I think longer ones like this usually do stand out as being among her better efforts.

    Reply
  9. Excellent choice, I haven’t read this one, but say the Mystery version on TV which was excellent. I thought your fact about M titles was interesting.

    Reply

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