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The Man in the Brown Suit

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Colonel Race (1)

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2,809633,796 (3.64)157
"Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her-and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails. The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: "17-122 Kilmorden Castle"?"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
I felt a little lost on this one, even though I usually like Agatha Christie. The plot was confusing ( )
  Jeff_Simms | Jun 9, 2021 |
Enh. I don't like Christie in "spy thriller" mode as much as in mystery mode – although this did have a mystery, with an interesting solution – and the sexual politics in this one just flat out revolt me. And it is of it today and of its social class in its discussion of Rhodesia in the 1920s. Since it's counted as part of a "Colonel Race" series, and I really liked Cards on the Table, I had hoped to like this better than I did. ( )
  AmphipodGirl | May 23, 2021 |
A very fun read - much more of a thriller than a conventional mystery. ( )
  poirotketchup | Mar 18, 2021 |
My journey in the mysteries of Agatha Christie continues with The Man in the Brown Suit. This falls under the Colonel Race series and involves so many characters playing multiple parts that I felt lost at times. When her father dies, Anne Beddingfeld decides that she must live and take chances. First a man falls to his death at the train station in front of her, then a man in a brown suit stating he is a doctor examines the fallen man. Anne retrieves a slip of paper the man in the brown suit drops and thus begins her sleuthing. Anne then finds a canister of undeveloped film at Mill House where a woman has been killed. Anne quickly books passage on the ship, Kilmorden Castle, bound for Africa. As usual, Agatha Christie supplies many charming and alarming characters. Anne encounters an attempt to throw her overboard and a kidnapping but prevails in these adventures. The style fringes on light banter between the characters and danger seems distant. Anne narrates half of the story and Sir Eustace Pedler’s diary details the remaining story, an interesting approach to the narrative. This lacks the forcefulness of Poirot. ( )
  delphimo | Mar 12, 2021 |



'The Man In The Brown Suit' was an amusing distraction with a likeable main character, an improbable plot, exotic locations and some wonderful views of how travelling from England through Africa worked when you were English, white and wealthy.

Anne Bedingfeld is a young woman who has lead a sheltered life and, after the death of her father, is hungry to leave the village she grew up in behind her and head out into the world in search of adventure. She finds one when she sees a man fall to his death at Hyde Park Tube station and takes it upon herself to investigate the circumstances.

She throws herself fearlessly and energetically into a situation that she doesn't understand and finds herself travelling to Africa to try and understand the mystery behind the man's death. Along the way, multiple attempts are made on her life and she falls in love (at a truly amazing speed) with Mr tall dark and possibly lethal. It's a wonderful experience for a woman who grew up wishing she was the heroine of the Saturday Matiné Serial 'The Perils Of Pauline'.

What I liked most about the book were the two characters from whose points of view the story is told. Anne Bedingfeld is full of passionate surprises. I enjoyed her enthusiasm for life especially in the face of adversity. I also enjoyed the extracts from Sir Eustace's diary, which, with their why-does-this-keep-happening-to-me? All-I-want-is-a-quiet-life descriptions, act as a counterpoint to Anne's narrative and which became even more interesting when I reached the end of the book and understood what they really were.

I loved the pleasure Anne took in seeing Cape Town for the first time. I rather liked that she struggled for words to express it. Feeling beauty and being able to describe that beauty is not the same thing. The second takes some emotional distance that rather spoils the moment, so Anne's wordless wonder is entirely in character.

I admired the way Anne threw herself into surfing. No training. No prep. Just give it a go and don't give up. Then her description

'Surfing is like that, you are either vigorously cursing or else you are idiotically pleased with yourself'.

Her whole adventure seems to me to be like her surfing - she just throws herself into it and it works or it doesn't.

Anne's reaction when she realises that's she's made a mistake and placed herself in a vulnerable position captures both her humour and her peculiar pluck. Her interior monologue goes like this:

'It reminded me forcibly of Episode Three in 'The Perils of Pamela'. How often had I not sat in the sixpenny seats, eating a tuppeny bar of milk chocolate and yearning for similar things to happen to me? Well, they had happened with a vengeance and somehow it was not nearly so amusing as I had imagined. It's all very well on the screen. You have the comfortable knowledge that there's bound to be an Episode Four, but in real life, there was absolutely no guarantee that 'Anna The Adventuress' might not terminate abruptly at the end of any episode.'

Then we get to the baddy and the spell is broken, We came dangerously close to 'Vee Haf Ways of Making You Talk' with this line.

'And I can tell you, young lady, we've more ways than one of making obstinate little fools talk.'

I wonder if this already a cliché in 1924.

Still, I liked Anne's mental response. It demonstrated exactly the right amount of stiff upper lip.

'It was not cheering but it was at least a respite.'

The things that surprised me most was the insta-love between Anne and our brooding male lead. At first, it seemed a little out of character for Anne and too much of a nod to romance by Christie. As things went on, they became more interesting. I started to understand that Anne is excited by dangerous men and by being treated roughly and wondered if her insta-love was just a socially acceptable way of expressing insta-lust. Despite her sheltered background, Anne seems to be a woman who knows her own tastes and the kind of man who can satisfy them. By the end, it seemed to me that Anne was an archetype of a woman who enjoys power-exchange relationships. She's a strong, fearless woman who likes to surrender her power for a time to her lover so that she can experience something a little different. I wonder if this was seen as risque at the time or was just regarded as an expected form of submission?

The thing I liked least about the book was the Prologue. It could have been deleted and nothing would have been lost. It seems to me to show a lack of confidence in the readers' willingness to figure out what the plot is about. It plods, it's cliché-ridden and it sits outside of the narrative style of the rest of the book.

It didn't help that I listened to the Prologue and the first chapter using the the 'Alison Larkin Presents’ version of the audiobook. The narration didn't work for me. It seemed to be trying too hard. I sent it back and got the version by Emilia Fox instead. That worked well and carried me through the rest of the book. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

.


https://soundcloud.com/harpercollinspublishers/the-man-in-the-brown-suit-by

( )
  MikeFinnFiction | Jan 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benvenuti, StefanoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardenberg, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laatunen, Saima-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López Hipkiss , GuillermoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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[None]
Dedication
To E. A. R.
in memory of a journey, some lion stories and a request that I should some day write the "mystery of the Mill House."
First words
Nadina, the dancer who had taken Paris by storm, swayed to the sound of the applause, bowed and bowed again.
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It made me catch my breath and have that curious hungry pain inside that seizes one sometimes when one comes across something that's extra beautiful. (Chapter 18)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her-and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails. The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: "17-122 Kilmorden Castle"?"--P. [4] of cover.

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Book description
Newly-orphaned Anne Beddingfeld is a nice English girl looking for a bit of adventure in London. But she stumbles upon more than she bargained for! Anne is on the platform at Hyde Park Corner tube station when a man falls onto the live track, dying instantly. A doctor examines the man, pronounces him dead, and leaves, dropping a note on his way. Anne picks up the note, which reads "17.1 22 Kilmorden Castle". The next day the newspapers report that a beautiful ballet dancer has been found dead there-- brutally strangled. A fabulous fortune in diamonds has vanished. And now, aboard the luxury liner Kilmorden Castle, mysterious strangers pillage her cabin and try to strangle her. What are they looking for? Why should they want her dead? Lovely Anne is the last person on earth suited to solve this mystery... and the only one who can! Anne's journey to unravel the mystery takes her as far afield as Africa and the tension mounts with every step... and Anne finds herself struggling to unmask a faceless killer known only as 'The Colonel'....
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