4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie – Book review

I haven’t read a lot of Miss Marple books so thought I’d give the 4.50 from Paddington a go and find out more about her as such an iconic character. A good plan in theory as this Agatha Christie story does indeed feature Miss Marple BUT she doesn’t actually feature in it a lot. Definitely not the lead character here in the way that Poirot often is.

There’s something so anonymous about a train.

What happened on the 4.50 from Paddington?

Lead character status instead goes to Lucy Eyelesbarrow – a super-efficient housekeeper and friend of Miss Marple’s. Miss Marple asks Lucy to take a position at Rutherford Hall, a country manor house, after a very mysterious happening…

Miss Marple’s friend, Elspeth, is on a train when she looks out of the window and sees a train on the opposite track. At that exact moment, she sees a murder occur on the other train. Or at least she thinks she does. This unique premise is the hook of the 4.50 from Paddington – who could possibly help Elspeth with this crazy scenario? Miss Marple, of course!

Miss Marple deduces that the body – which was not found on the train – must have been pushed off it at some point and she thinks the most likely place was in the grounds of Rutherford Hall (hence why she asks Lucy to take a position there). The Crackenthorpe family live there and, by default, become the prime suspects.

To be honest, despite its enticing set-up with the train situation, what follows isn’t Agatha’s tightest plot. There are far too many pages dedicated to ‘who could have put arsenic in the food’ chat and one too many siblings in the Crackenthorpe family to easily keep track when remembering all their back stories.

The thing about Agatha Christie books…

If it’s one thing I’ve learnt by now about Agatha Christie books it’s that they can be hit and miss, and while the 4.50 from Paddington wasn’t a miss, it’s not exactly up there in my top 10 territory.

This was an audiobook listen for me – I find that audiobooks are a highly enjoyable way to devour Agatha Christie stories. The version I listened to was narrated by the actress Emilia Fox and she was excellent at defining all the characters, really brought the story to life.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this book, have you read it?

  • Audiobook narrated by Emilia Fox;
  • Running time: 6 hrs 31 mins;
  • First published 1957;
  • 288 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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