Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Mysterious Mr. Quin

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie
Bantam Books, 1930
234 pages
3/5 stars
British Book Challenge

Source: Library

Summary: A collection of short stories featuring Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Quin as they unravel various mysteries.

Thoughts: I wasn't sure what this was as I am just endeavoring to read every Agatha Christie.  I was pleased to discover that they were short stories because I usually enjoy her short story collections.  I was less pleased with the mysteries on offer and I ended up confused regarding Mr. Quin.

What happens in each story, basically, is that Mr. Satterthwaite is an observer of the human drama and when Mr. Quin appears, he encourages Satterthwaite to think things over and figure out what the solution to the mystery is.  In several cases, he prevents a suicide and in all he improves the lives of the innocent.  Because of their shortness and the fact that he was reviewing cases from years previous, there was a lack of urgency and less satisfaction than I'm used to feeling at the end of a successful conclusion to a mystery.

The confusing part to me was the character of Harley Quin who is like a harlequin.  A harlequin is apparently a comic servant who helps unravel romantic entanglements, which Quin does.  I had thought he was an angel or something because he appears when there's need of him and then magically disappears at the end of each story.  I am wondering if this is a British element and thus I didn't understand it or if harlequins were popular in the 1930s and thus I didn't understand.  But that element really put me off the stories.

Overall: Unsatisfying mystery stories and confusing element.

Cover: This cover drives home the point about harlequins.


  1. It seems this is not one of her best works, so not something a beginner like me should read just yet. Funny - Harley Quin made me think of the Joker's sidekick from the Batman comics, Harley Quinn.

  2. I have been a fan of Agatha Christie's mysteries since I was a young teen but haven't read this yet. I've mostly read her Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries with a few others. I haven't even read the ones featuring Ariadne Oliver yet. I need to get to those someday!

    Thanks for your review of this. I hadn't heard of it before.

  3. I also haven't read this one yet which is strange as I thought I have done the whole lot of books. I will be looking out for this one.

  4. I have read another Saterthwaite novel but I can't remember the title - I don't remember diliking it, but it wasn't the same as a Poirot or Marple novel.

  5. Are you a member of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge? Sounds as if it would suit you. I invite you to submit this post to the next Carnival, due to be published in a couple of days time

  6. Hmmm... unsatisfying that doesn't sound very encouraging. I like that the main character observes "human drama" though. That sounds entertaining.


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