When Jane Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she's looking for at Bertram's: a restored London hotel with traditional decor, impeccable service - and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer. Yet not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day....
©1965 Agatha Christie Limited (P)2002 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
I enjoyed the twists and turns, and the intricate plot lines. I like the stories where Christie developes her characters to this extent. One of the 'kinder, gentler' mysteries.
It’s funny about great or wildly popular authors. Their reputations are so firmly established that, when you’re less than enchanted by their output, rather than suspect the writer is not up to his or her usual high standards you doubt your own ability to keep up with them.
It doesn’t happen that often, but in such circumstances I turn to the critics. The last time this happened was when Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot had me wondering what it was all about. To my relief, the critical consensus was that Mr. Dostoyevsky had “lost control of his material” in that outing.
Now Agatha Christie has me wondering.
In the case of Bertram’s, I get that the place is the epicenter of a crime ring. But why all the elaborate fancy dress? Why does the ring feel compelled to play-act the presence of prominent individuals—individuals who all stay at Bertram’s—at the scenes of the crimes they commit? Wouldn’t that necessarily bring suspicion on the hotel that is their GHQ?
And the ending; when I saw the TV version of this story I thought the outlandish finish was the by-product of overexcited imaginations at the BBC (but then I also thought the novel would make plain what all the fancy dress was about, too).
Turns out that, at the time the book came out (1961) the critics had the same problems:
"A.C. is seldom at her best when she goes thrillerish on you. This one is a bit wild and far-fetched, but it's got plenty of that phenomenal zest and makes a reasonably snug read." (Maurice Richardson, The Observer)
"At Bertram's Hotel is vintage Agatha Christie: an ingenious mystery that triumphantly gets away with what in lesser hands would be the most outrageous coincidences." (Robert Weaver, Toronto Daily Star)
"The plot is rather creaky…but the hotel atmosphere is very well conveyed and used… the sharp eye had not dimmed, even if the narrative grasp was becoming shaky." (Robert Barnard)
Not that I wasn’t enchanted with the story—it is, as stated above, a reasonably snug listen. And the performance by Stephanie Cole was so good that I’ll be on the lookout for her name next time I’m in the market for murder. Also, as noted above, Christie is a wonderful writer. Her descriptions and character studies are always worth a pause so they might be fully relished. But, ultimately, in spite of Christie’s undisputed powers and Cole’s flawless performance, this one fails to give the solid satisfaction one usually feels at the end of a well-wrought who-dunnit.
Entertaining as always, although not one of her best. Although it's classified as a Miss Marple story, Miss M is hardly a player in the narrative. Good narration by Stephanie Cole.
I didn't read the print version, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story.
The plot had a number of twists and turns, and at one poimt I was sure I knew who was doing the killing, but Ms. Christie fooled me again.
Early in the book, Miss Marple was exploring the people in the tea room with a commontary about all of the guests, their backgrounds, and the gains and begottens. Now you were ready to find the culprit.
I just thoroughly enjoyed listening to the book, and did it in one day because it was so terribly intriging.
I love listening to Agatha Christie stories while knitting. This one was no disappointment! Enjoy.
Intriguing. Complicated. Entertaining.
Yes it did. There were many twists and turns that went in all directions before the end.
Her voices are good and clear.
Wanted to, yes! If only.
Most Christie books are a good listen but this is definately one of my favorites.
Classic Christie- pretty solvable, but not so easy that it ruins the fun. Highly recommend if for a cozy-mystery feel.
This is just one of my favorite Agatha Christie's. It has everything that makes her books so enjoyable, the wonderful eccentric British characters, the astute character observations, a well plotted story. There's a reason why her books have stood the test of time. In this case, Stephanie Cole does a marvelous job of bringing Miss Marple to life.
I just adore Miss Marple. Something about this little old lady no one pays attention to, but she's so astute, a much better observer than all the "smarter" people around her.
I've enjoyed Stephanie Cole's performances before, but this was the first time I've listened to her read, and it was wonderful. She brought all the characters to life, but more importantly it was a well-paced reading.
When the various police authorities have gathered with Miss Marple in the hotel and she keeps pulling rabbits out of the hat, surprising them with all the things she's noticed and discovered about the various guests and hotel employees.
I found the mysterious appearance of the hotel as well as its deception to be most interesting.
No, but I most certainly will in the future.
Stephanie Cole's narration really brings you into the story.The range of characters she narrates was well performed.
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