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Nemesis (1971)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Miss Marple (11)

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3,656793,467 (3.68)150
Fiction. Mystery. HTML:

In Agatha Christie's baffling detective story, Nemesis, a letter from a dead man instructs Miss Marple how to conduct an investigation into a puzzlingly unspecific crime.

In utter disbelief, Miss Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr. Rafielā??an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels. He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intriguing.

Soon she is faced with a new crimeā??the ultimate crimeā??murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remained buried. .… (more)

  1. 20
    Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (Porua)
    Porua: The motive and method reminds me a little of another Miss Marple mystery, Sleeping Murder.
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» See also 150 mentions

English (72)  Spanish (4)  Slovak (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
From all the books by Agatha Christie I see this as one of her most important books. It is as if you hear Agatha thinking, saying things with her heart about the person society (in the book) thinks is the murderer, but also as if she want to teach us never to go for accusations, gossip, without thorough investigation. Television adaptions, especially the last ones, made it into a weird story, so in my opinion it is better to stick to the book. It slowly leads towards a climax, one, in which you feel sorry for the murderer (...) It made me think, Miss Marple is in many ways a better detective actually than Poirot! ( )
  annus_sanctus | Mar 7, 2024 |
I understand this is the last Marple novel. Written in the 70s. I liked this one, there's a creepy goth vibe to the prceedings, and the climax is sinister in an almost Lynchian way. Alas the epilogue, where Ms M explains how she figured it out, is unecessary and redundant. AC has a tendency to bang you over the head with allusions often. Still, an engaging, creepy, occasionally unsettling read.
Oh, it's fun to read Ms M her pass herself off as scatterbrained, senile oldie to put people off their guard and get them to tell her just about anything. Got a big kick out of that.
Important things - AC's writing in general has many archaic concepts about women. She was a richie, so there's always an obnoxious whiff of classism floatiing about her fiction. She puts a high premium on physical attractiveneass. These could be deal breakers for some readers.
On a final note: there's an underlying sadness to a great deal of the work I've read by her, which I'm finding interesting and unexpected from a reading of popular mystery fiction. ( )
  arthurfrayn | Feb 24, 2024 |
Miss Marpleā€™s Mission Impossible
Review of the William Morrow Paperbacks Kindle edition (June 15, 2004) of the Collins Crime Club (UK) hardcover (November 1971) & the Dodd, Mead & Company (US) hardcover (December 1971) originals.

"That old lady gives me the creeps,ā€ said Sir Andrew McNeil, when he had said good-bye and thanks to Miss Marple.
ā€œSo gentleā€”and so ruthless,ā€ said the Assistant Commissioner.


Nemesis is a nickname given to Miss Marple by millionaire Jason Rafiel, whom she met when they collaborated to solve A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple novel #9 or book #10 - 1964). Rafiel was already sickly in the earlier book and has now passed away. In his Will he sets a final challenge for Miss Marple, and if she can solve it she will have earned Ā£20,000*. She is not provided with any actual clues, but is instead directed to take a homes & gardens bus tour and to stop over with acquaintances of Mr. Rafiel. Miss Marple takes up the challenge.

See cover at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/72/Marplenemesis.jpg
The front cover of the original 1971 Collins Crime Club (UK) hardcover edition. Image sourced from Wikipedia.

The sheer apparent impossibility of the task and the steps that Miss Marple takes to solve it regardless make this the pinnacle of the Miss Marple books. It is quite unorthodox for the genre as even the identity of the victim is uncertain at first. Although I had hoped to read the books in order, I had to jump over a few of them as I wasn't able to source them immediately. I will still complete them as part of this binge read, but I expect Nemesis will remain the crowning achievement.

Confusion for Completists
Nemesis is the 11th Miss Marple novel. Some lists, including the Goodreads Miss Marple Listopia, count it as Miss Marple #12, as the short story collection The Thirteen Problems (1932) is counted as #1. Nemesis was the final Miss Marple novel to be written. Sleeping Murder aka Miss Marple's Last Case, published posthumously in 1976, was actually written sometime between 1940 to 1944.

Footnote
* Ā£20,000 in 1971 would be worth Ā£283,793.01 as of 2023. Calculated via InflationTool.com.

Trivia and Links
Nemesis was adapted twice for English language television series. Both of the TV adaptations make considerable changes to the original plot. The 2007 ITV adaptation even includes Richard E. Grantā€™s performance as Miss Marpleā€™s nephew, the writer Raymond West, who is often mentioned in the books and TV series, but never makes a physical appearance otherwise (as best as I can remember). I did not find any free trailers or postings of either of them, but they are both available on the Britbox streaming service here in Canada.

The first TV adaptation was as part of the BBC's Miss Marple (1984-1992) series as Episode 8 in 2 parts in 1987, which starred Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.

The second TV adaptation was as part of ITV's Agatha Christieā€™s Marple (2004-2013) reboot series as Season 3 Episode 4 in 2007 which starred Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. ( )
  alanteder | Oct 24, 2023 |
A Miss Marple, getting physically more frail as she gets older, is still allowed to stretch her brain skills, by being sent on a tour to find out a crime. Only she's not told what the crime is, or when it happened...
  nordie | Oct 14, 2023 |
Some years earlier, when on holiday in the Caribbean, Miss Marple had met Jonas Rafiel and together they had solved a mystery. Now, a number of years on, he has died, but with some"unfinished business" on his mind, and he leaves a bequest for Miss Marple, dependent on her carrying out his request. She is contacted by his lawyers who hand her a letter from him offering her Ā£20,000. At that stage there is no detail about what he wants her to do apart from the fact that he is keen to see that justice is to be done, and he reminds her of the fact she once told him that she saw herself as Nemesis, the harbinger of justice.

So she begins her quest two days letter by joining a bus tour of Famous Hoses and Gardens of Great Britain with 15 other people. She really still has no idea of what Mr Rafiel wanted her to do, but she has already begun some investigations of her own into his background. As the bus trip progresses it becomes clear that although he hasn't told Miss Marple much, Mr Rafiel has assumed she will accept his request, and he has done several things to clear the way for her.

By the middle of the novel I thought the nature of Miss Marple's quest had become obvious, but at the same time, the narrative was frustratingly slow, almost as if Christie wanted us to think about what makes a person a good detective etc. And then came the first death when one of the passengers from the bus tour was killed, struck by a large boulder. Things speeded up a bit after that.

I can understand if readers are of two minds with this book. It is very different from most of the Miss Marple books, and I thought it was a bit obvious that Christie wanted to explore what made Jane Marple so sensitive to the presence of evil, what made her so determined to see that justice was done. There are sections of text that are almost rambling.

You will have seen that I have read this before. I am re-reading it with my U3A Agatha Christie reading group and I will be interested to see whether or not they have enjoyed it. We will follow our discussion with the viewing of one of the television interpretations but I have yet decided whether it will be the Joan Hickson or the Geraldine McEwan one, probably the former I think, in the hope that it sticks closer to the original book. Which do you think it should be? (We don't have time for both) ( )
1 vote smik | Oct 1, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agatha Christieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ayres, RosalindNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonticoli, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, Richard E.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hickson, JoanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Persson, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thommessen, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Daphne Honeybone
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In the afternoons it was the custom of Miss Jane Marple to unfold her second newspaper.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Mystery. HTML:

In Agatha Christie's baffling detective story, Nemesis, a letter from a dead man instructs Miss Marple how to conduct an investigation into a puzzlingly unspecific crime.

In utter disbelief, Miss Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr. Rafielā??an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels. He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intriguing.

Soon she is faced with a new crimeā??the ultimate crimeā??murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remained buried. .

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