Book Review: The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (1924)
Synopsis: After her archaeologist father dies, a newly "freed" Anne Beddingfeld moves to London in search of adventure. When she witnesses a man fall in front of a train and finds a connection between that and the murder of an unknown woman, she uses that information to obtain a newspaper correspondent job. She ultimately ends up on a ship to South Africa where she learns two important things, she is investigating a case involving stolen diamonds and her life is in danger as a result.
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Review: I started reading Agatha Christie's fourth novel a couple weeks ago and finally had a chance to finish it up last night, while waiting for my daughter at the ice rink. Overall, I have to say I enjoyed every bit of this one.
Normally, I can read (or watch) a mystery and have some sort of idea about who the bad guy is. And, even when I'm wrong, it's usually my second choice. This time around, I have to admit I was completely stumped. I had all sorts of theories about who the mysterious "Colonel" was, including a minor character that was referenced but never seen but, when the big reveal happened, it was someone that I can honestly say wasn't even on my radar. This kept me in suspense from start to finish.
Adding to the enjoyment was the fact Anne's life was obviously in danger from the time she boarded the ship to South Africa until the very end of the story. This made the book much more suspenseful than Christie's earlier novels because, at any moment, she could have someone trying to throw her overboard or (when they arrived in South Africa) find a way to send her over a cliff. And, since every other character in the book was someone she just met/didn't really know very well, it could be just about anyone trying to do it.
I think my only real dislike about this book is the one I've had with some of her other stories as well, the protagonist falls in love way too easily. I was perfectly OK with Tommy and Tuppence falling in love in The Secret Adversary because they had at least known each other since childhood. In this book, Anne had three separate men propose to her (and she has feelings for two of them) literally a few weeks (if that) after meeting them.
Maybe things were extremely different back in the 1920s but, it seems awfully fast, especially since one of those men was likely a murderer. Plus, I have to say the drawn-out romantic island thing with one of them seemed like it could have been trimmed a bit.
Final Opinion: There's a little too much focus on romance later in the book. However, the mystery is intriguing and more than made up for the parts of the book I wasn't a huge fan of.
My Grade: A
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