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Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
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Sleeping Murder (original 1976; edition 1976)

by Agatha Christie

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2,368312,649 (3.75)64
Member:jburlinson
Title:Sleeping Murder
Authors:Agatha Christie
Info:Dodd, Mead (1976), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Mystery

Work details

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (1976)

  1. 70
    Nemesis by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: The motive and method reminds me a little of another Miss Marple mystery, Nemesis.
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Who does not know Agatha Christie, the writer who was the Queen of Detective Fiction, the Woman of Mystery? Her last novel (Sleeping Murder) was published posthumously in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in October 1976. Even the origin of the novel is exciting. This novel was written during WWII and she gave the publishing rights to her husband in case of her death in order to cover the costs of her possible funeral. What hard times could those be? It is said her last mystery was the most perfect among her works.
As I am an AC fun, one of my favourite stories is Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple’s Last Case (also known as Cover Her Face). Let me awake your interest towards this novel by a short taste. Of course, the killer's identity remains a mystery.
A beautiful young lady, the newlywed Gwenda Reed travels to the south coast of England to find a new home for her and her husband. She fall in love with a house at first sight, then she can see mysterious pictures. She can see a path where really was a path earlier, she saw the wallpaper with poppy pattern that was on the wall many years ago, she always wants to go through the wall that place where a door was previously. Finally, she has a vision of a murder… Soon Mr. Reed came home too, and the couple starts to explore the case. Naturally, Miss Marple, the elderly spinster from St. Mary Mead, also appears and begins to investigate the murder. Finally, she unveils the culprit…
The style of the story is the well known. The elegant, fictional world, where everybody has secrets, the past and present met, where we can see many possible psychological motives for murder. Eventually the culprit is revealed. Riveting reading material.
(WEIG32)
  Botondolo | Apr 14, 2014 |
With a premise similar to that of Five Little Pigs or Nemesis - the investigation into a murder that's decades old - I would have expected a better novel. It wasn't abysmal but then again nothing stood out either. The characters are forgettable and flat and Christie should have made the house it's set in more atmospheric, I never really got a feel of the place and yet she does atmosphere so well when she wants to. Shame. Really should have ended the Marple novels with Nemesis, which is such a strong book. Still an entertaining read. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
In the beginning, a personal anecdote:

As a child, I was troubled intermittently by a nightmare. I am walking around the compound of my maternal grandfather's ancestral home, when I reach a dilapidated building in a secluded corner. I open it and enter, even though my better sense counsels against it. Inside, it is a prayer room dedicated to evil gods. Their pictures are hung all over the walls, and their ugly idols leer up at me. Also, the place is full of the images of the tortured victims of these deities, their silent screams, mutilated bodies and blood.

I wake up in a cold sweat.

The mystery of this dream was solved later. It was only a poster of
Naraka (the Indian hell) which I saw as a child, in that house, which left a lasting impression on me.

I will not dwell on the Freudian aspects of this incident: just point out the fact that childhood traumas, however trivial, have lasting impacts. I speak from personal experience.

Onward with the review.


What if one has witnessed a murder as a toddler? What if one's childhood psyche had repressed that incident, until it came back to haunt one as a distorted vision in one's beautiful new home which one suddenly realises is none other than the venue of that Sleeping Murder?

One would go mad...that is what nearly happened to Gwen. Fortunately, she had Miss Marple to help.

Gwenda and Giles Reed return to England from New Zealand. She has no memories; as far as she knows, she has never been in England. However, buying the dream home she had set her eyes on, Gwen begins to be troubled by memories, which she thinks are from another life. She runs away to London to escape. However, watching a performance of the Duchess of Malfi, and hearing the words “cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young” brings a terrifying image into her mind… the blue strangled face of a beautiful young girl, and she herself watching it through the bannisters… and the monkey’s paws…

Gwen is convinced that she is mad. But thankfully, she had chosen to stay with Raymond West, who most fortuitously had his Aunt Jane Marple on the premises. The old lady is not ready to go for a supernatural explanation. She has a much more prosaic one: Gwen has actually seen somebody murdered in the same house, where she has stayed as a child – a memory which has been suppressed.

The young lady and her husband soon find out that Miss Marple had hit the nail on the head. Gwen had stayed in the house as a little child, along with her father and her flighty stepmother Helen, who had disappeared, presumably run away with one of her many young men. However, Gwen’s father was convinced that he murdered her, and ultimately was committed and died in an asylum. But it is now possible that he may not have been mad – that Helen was actually murdered (though not by him). However, the tantalising question arises… if she was murdered, who is the killer?

Thus begins a murder investigation into the past by the young couple, against the counsel of Miss Marple to “leave sleeping murder lie”. Once she is convinced that they will not let go, Miss Marple agrees to join them, if only to keep them safe.

And thus begins a rollercoaster ride, one of Christie’s most suspenseful novels.

***

As a mystery, Sleeping Murder is rather predictable. There was no “aha!” moment at the end, because I already had a good idea who the murderer was. But I give the novel four stars for its structure and breakneck pace, rather like a Hitchcock movie… and also for the personal experience I quoted at the beginning. I could sympathise with Gwenda.
( )
  Nandakishore_Varma | Sep 28, 2013 |
Miss Marple appears scantily in this particular story. Here, the murder dominates the scene. I've noticed that the murders that Agatha Christie places in the relative past, that is prior to the current investigation, well these murders always have the bodies tumbled out of the cupboard. Books of Agatha Christie that use this device appeal to me, and also to many others, judging by the several mysteries where the author uses this trick.

It is a trick after all, a very solid gimmick that engenders macabre feelings like there was no tomorrow. I scarcely noticed that Miss Marple was not being her usual self, she didn't draw too much parallel with human psychology when explaining her thoughts at the end. In fact there's little proof that Miss Marple knew with certainty of the murderer's identity. There's no proof of the doctor's crime even. Thankfully it's not one of those stories where the frail Miss Marple derails the mind of a hardened serial killer, with cheap tricks, like in "A Murder Is Announced" for example.

So yeah I solved this case. However, the case was very deceiving and I was up against a palpable wall of fog. There was not much to latch onto. There is no slow start to this book, which was one of the reasons for the five stars I gave it. I was completely baffled by the events leading to the bewilderment of one Gwenda Reed. Along with the sense of evil there's a forbidding atmosphere and a hint of regret and a pining at the waste of life.

There were two things that put me on the right track. First the action of cutting that tennis net to shreds. Secondly, the murderer is mostly the one who is able to influence the case and distort facts to his advantage. I didn't pick on the wound that Helen got on her foot. I only knew that the doctor didn't have a brain teaser of an alibi.

I absolutely loved the quote from the Duchess of Malfi. The quote, which I can't paste because it's too much of a bother to go look for it in my ebook, defines the galling evilness of the crime. It also gave away the fact that the murderer was insane to a degree. I would have wanted for Miss Marple to rant against the wicked nature of the crime, but she was surprisingly passive in this book. If I remember correctly there was one moment where her eyes expressed anger but that was in the middle of the book and at that time she wasn't sure of the solution to the murder.

Another reason for liking this book so much is the vivid depiction of the characters. Among all the pure and innocent characters that Agatha Christie has thrust upon our readership, the young Reed couple was one the most believable. It's very difficult to make decent, innocent characters come to life. The author presents Gwenda and her husband in their non British simplicity. They are so pure that the finicky English countryside people warm up to them with no trouble. It's unclear whether the main protagonists had a New Zealand accent and how strong it was. But the Reed couple were life like and they hid the fact that they were cogs in the story which I enjoyed very much.

This is, I regret, already the last Marple book that was unread uptil now. The book called Nemesis had a similar strong presence of evil and a murder set in the past, with a close person as the murderer. Miss Marple books are as fine as Alice In Wonderland or Sherlock Holmes stories. They are the finest simple sustenance that the English literature can impart to the young and not so young. They are to be cherished. ( )
  Jiraiya | Jun 18, 2013 |
For some reason, this creeped me out a bit. I guess it's how twisted the murderer is, and yet all along you/the main characters rely on his testimony... I did see it coming, rather, but something about his character really got to me. Ugh.

That, plus the fact that I called it after about one hundred pages, means I didn't enjoy this book so much. There wasn't anything especially distinguishing and fun about the characters or the setting that made it extra interesting. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cole, StephanieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gjerløw, TuridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laine, Anna-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leach, RosemaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verheydt, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Gwenda Reed stood, shivering a little, on the quayside.
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This is the main work for Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie. Please do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451200195, Mass Market Paperback)

A young bride is having trouble settling in to their home. Feelings of unnatural dread are taking their toll. And when Miss Marple investigates, she learns how truthful-and terrifying-the imagination can be.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A young bride, sent by her husband to look for a suitable house, finds the one that seems meant for her, a charming Victorian villa called Hillside.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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