A Caribbean Mystery

Narrated by: Joan Hickson
Series: Miss Marple, Book 10
Length: 5 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As Jane Marple sat basking in the Caribbean sunshine, she felt mildly discontented with life. True, the warmth eased her rheumatism, but here in paradise, nothing ever happened.

Eventually, her interest was aroused by an old soldier's yarn about a strange coincidence. Infuriatingly, just as he was about to show her an astonishing photograph, the Major's attention wandered. He never did finished the story.

©1943 Agatha Christie Limited, a Chorion Company. All rights reserved (P)1996, Re-issue 2002 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London UK

Critic Reviews

"Liveliness...infectious zest...as good as anything Miss Christie has done." (Observer)
"Throws off the false clues and misleading events as only a master of the art can do." (New York Times)

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Joan Hickson

Joan Hickson is my favorite narrator. She should be the one to narrate all of miss marple-books.

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  • S. Todd
  • 09-29-16

Addictive and beautifully narrated.

Joan Hickson does a marvellous job voicing all the characters and her pronunciation is deliciously contemporaneous. Agatha Christie's masterful weaving and subsequent unravelling of the plot leads one by the nose till the end. Marvellous!

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  • AtikAtak
  • 06-02-16

One of the best

I've listened to this book over and over again. I love the story and love the reading.

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  • FictionFan
  • 01-31-20

You can take the woman out of the village...

Miss Marple’s kind nephew Raymond has sent her on a vacation to St Honoré to soak up some sunshine after she’s been unwell. She’s staying at the Golden Palm resort, filled with visitors from around the world though the plot sticks pretty much to the Brits and Americans. One visitor, Major Palgrave, likes to tell long rambling stories of his colonial days and Miss Marple makes the perfect audience. As a genteel lady of a certain age, she has perfected the art of making gentlemen believe she’s listening avidly while in reality she’s pursuing her own thoughts or counting the stitches in her knitting. But when Major Palgrave suddenly dies, Miss Marple is convinced that it’s connected to a story he was telling her about how he once met a murderer. If only she’d been paying more attention! Struggling to recall the details and also feeling a little out of her element so far from home, Miss Marple realises that she can still use village parallels even amongst these strangers – human nature, she finds, is the same everywhere...

While I don’t consider this to be one of Christie’s very best, it’s still a very entertaining mystery and the exotic setting gives it an added interest, although (like many tourists) Miss Marple never sets foot outside the resort so we get very little feel for what life for the real islanders may be like. Another of the residents is Mr Rafiel, an elderly invalid with a grumpy temper. At first inclined to dismiss Miss Marple as a gossipy old woman, he finds she stands up to him more than most people and comes to respect her insight, so that gradually they begin to work together to find the truth. The other residents, including Mr Rafiel’s staff, become the pool of suspects and Miss Marple knows that her only investigatory tool is the art of drawing people out through conversation. Happily people do love to gossip so she soon has plenty of background on the potential suspects, although she has to sift through conflicting stories to get to the truth.

Agatha Christie was long before political correctness, of course, and I see from other reviews that some people think her portrayal of the islanders is racist. I don’t, but that may be because of my age. It seems to me that Christie speaks as respectfully of the black characters as of the white – her dialect sounds a bit clunky, perhaps, and she comments, though not disparagingly, on different customs, but surely we can still do that, can’t we? Mind you, I’ve also seen reviews calling the Miss Marple books ageist – baffled – and sexist – baffled again. She was merely reflecting the society in which she lived. (I am glad I’ve lived most of my life in an era when people weren’t scrutinising every word and expression looking for reasons to be perpetually outraged. It must be so exhausting.)

This time I listened to the audiobook narrated by Joan Hickson, whose portrayal of Miss Marple I love. However, it must be said that she can’t do Caribbean accents at all and her islanders therefore come over as kind of caricatures and rather off-putting to modern ears. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been an issue when she recorded the book but I think modern listeners would expect something that sounded a little more authentic. This is one case where reluctantly I’d definitely recommend reading rather than listening.

An enjoyable book, particularly for readers who have been disappointed previously to find that Miss Marple doesn’t always have a big role in the books she’s in. In this one, she’s very definitely the central character and we’re given access to her inner thoughts, not just about the crime, but about ageing and about life in general. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always seen Miss Marple as Ms Christie’s alter-ego in these later books (it was published in 1964, when Christie would herself have been 74), and so I always feel we’re getting a bit of insight into her view of modern society – not always “woke”, I grant you, but always true to her age and time.

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  • Freddie Roberts
  • 12-24-19

brilliant story telling

extremely well read. fully enjoyable. easy listening. well narrated. excellent story. looking forward to next one.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-28-19

One of her best Marples!

I adore this book and could listen to it again and again (and already have!) Joan Hickson IS Miss Marple to me and has a wonderful voice for story telling.

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  • Gordon Davis-Day
  • 05-26-18

Not my most favourite, but still good.

This is I would say one of my least favourite story's but I understand that it must proceed to another later story, it was very performed by Joan Hickson that is undeniable and it is the reason I continue to listen to the book. I find it difficult to read though so listening makes so much easier, especially when well performed.

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  • daisyrock
  • 01-05-18

Top notch Marple

Miss Marple's only overseas outing - and what a memorable one. Joan Hickson is flawless.

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  • Derek Thorburn
  • 03-16-16

"He said ... She Said

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely, it's a book you just can't put down.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Miss Marple, so ably and naturally narrated by Joan Hickson

Which scene did you most enjoy?

When the murderer was revealed.

Any additional comments?

I listened to this book several years ago on CD and I really enjoyed the plot. It was an excellent setting for the novel. My mum heard a short snippet and like me, she liked the narration by Joan Hickson. I remember the first time I listened to it - I went through five suspects before the final revelation.

I also liked the snippet Miss Marple was reading out of of Raymond West's book as the man was staring at the girl's stained jersey, bare feet, dirty toe nails and the swell of rancied fat, wondering why he found her so attractive. Christie's comment, "Miss Marple wondered too" made me smile. She shows an excellent sense of humour at times and so easily and naturally adds a light hearted flavour to her books. I also like the way she tells her readers about the events which lead up to the murder before it happens.

With so many rumours going around and time running out, it keeps you wondering in true Christie style right up until the end and Miss Marple and Mr. Rafiel were an excellent duo.

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  • Fred
  • 08-31-15

A Caribbean Mystery

Ok so the stories are dated and what I would class as easy listening but Joan Hickson is still my favourite Marple and she narrates this well. A very pleasant afternoon listen.

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  • Denise
  • 07-08-15

Wonderful

I love Joan Hickson anyway but what a great narrator.

Agatha Christie at her finest too.

I heartily recommend this book.

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  • Kimberley
  • 12-20-15

Disappointing

Boring narration, she is hard to understand at times and a waste of money if an Agatha Christie fan.