Title: The Mysterious Mr. Quin
Author: Agatha Christie
Harley Quin is an enigma. Even his friend Mr Satterthwaite is unable to understand how the man seems to appear and disappear almost like a trick of the light – and when he does appear it’s usually in the sparkle of sunshine, or surrounded by a spectrum of coloured light pouring through a stained glass window…
In fact, the only consistent thing about the Mysterious Mr Quin is that his presence is always a harbinger of love … or death.
A man who appears just as Mr. Satterwaite is at the brink of a mystery. A man who disappears right after. Even, perhaps, a man that brings the mystery with him. A man who’s face is but a shadow whose very presence is like that of a flickering flame-never throwing light in one place for too long. That is the character of Mr. Quin.
Agatha Christie has created many beloved characters in the world of mystery from Poirot to Mrs. Marple. Yet the character of Mr. Quin is slightly different, slightly darker. Unlike her other detectives, Mr. Quin isn’t there to solve the mystery- to find out who committed the crime- he is there to open Mr Satterwaite’s eyes as to who did it. Mr. Quin plays with the darker aspect of crime and these stories are less suited for children than the stories of Poirot and Mrs. Marple.
From the onset itself, the reader knows Mr. Quin is different, there is something entirely unusual about him and while Agatha Christie’s writing feeds that line of thought, it never satisfies the hunger completely. As the stories progress, for this is not a novel, but a collection of short stories, you learn about various aspects of Mr. Quin, yet you never feel as though you have the entire puzzle. Each story feels like that one last piece is missing, yet at the start of the next you realize that perhaps you were looking at only a certain part of the puzzle and not the entire picture.
However, the format of multiple short stories forming a larger image made the puzzle hard to keep track of, to continue my analogy further. It felt, suddenly, as though the puzzle was circular and you were fitting different puzzle pieces into the same place and create a mesh rather than one clear picture. The stories, on occasion, ended abruptly upon solving the mystery or started abruptly, in the middle of a scenario.
Clear and concise, each story is presented in an easily digestible form that allows the reader to take each one in before moving on to the next one, but it won’t allow for you to put the book down. Crime, passion, death, love, and a shroud of mystery.
It’s the kind of book you can read in installments, on the train on your way to and from work, or even in between subjects during exam season. It’s a light read and while it can captivate you to the point of not letting you go, the advantage of the short story format is that each story would only take you maximum an hour to read.
It’s not meant for the young readers, but then again, very few murder mysteries our [Famous Five never dealt with murder did they? Or Secret Seven? I suppose authors agree that this is an act too gruesome for kids…despite what popular culture says (Criminal Minds Anyone?)]
As always, comment below to tell me what you think and whether or not you’ll read it…or have read it