Harper, 2002 (1943)
His childish step-daughter Megan intrigues Jerry, while shy awkward Dr Griffith asks Joanna to help deliver a newborn. Eccentric vicar's wife Mrs Calthrop invites sweet white-haired knitter Miss Jane Marple to assemble the clues that Jerry recognizes when he dozes.
The Moving Finger is billed as a Miss Marple story, but in actual fact the diminutive, unassuming crime solver only pops up in the last quarter of the book, and even then her appearance is brief. Instead the book is narrated by Jerry, a former pilot who has been badly injured and moves to the country to convalesce, alongside his sister Joanna. As you might expect, their planned retreat is anything but relaxing, as they find themselves living in a village full of scandal, its residents plagued by a swathe of poison pen letters.
When a woman dies - as a direct result of the anonymous letters - Jerry becomes keen to unravel the mystery, getting involved with the police investigation and attempting to fathom the clues on his own, talking to his new neighbours and analysing all the evidence. There are a fair amount of red herrings, but what always keeps me coming back to Christie is that they are so well done - just subtle enough that you think you might have got it this time, and outsmarted the author, only to find that she's already anticipated you and moved on to another clue and another piece of misdirection. I was convinced for most of The Moving Finger that I knew who the letter writer was, only to be surprised by the result.
The Moving Finger didn't feel like classic Christie to me - it was a solid mystery, and very enjoyable, but the mystery was less clever than others I have read, and the ending less satisfying. I haven't read a lot of Miss Marple, and tend to prefer Poirot, but when I picked this up I did so with a conscious effort to try Marple again, so it was disappointing to find she hardly featured.
The Moving Finger is well-plotted, well-paced and an enjoyable mystery with plenty of clues for the amateur detective to try and unravel - not one of her best, but a solid read all the same.
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Book source: Borrowed from the library.