On the whole, this isn't a bad book. It's fun, engaging, and requires minimal attention to complete. As mentioned above, it's also a Miss Marple story, so if you're a fan of Miss Marple as a character (I am) it's great to see her in action again. The Tuesday Club Murders isn't so much a full-length story as a collection of short stories. On two separate occasions, a group of friends (each group including Miss Marple) gathers together to visit, and in the course of the visit decides to tell each other a murder mystery from their own experience. That is to say, they aren't telling stories about murders that they committed but rather stories about mysterious events during which they were present and also during which someone died. Later on, they found out that the death was more than an accident. Each person in the group must present the story in the form of a mystery and leave it to the listeners to see if they can solve it.
It's a fairly clever premise, but unfortunately the mysteries themselves are all a bit obvious. I figured most of them out for myself, and I count myself as a fairly stupid mystery reader -- I never figure it out. So if I can figure these out, they're pretty transparent. I'll give Christie some credit. She has to assemble twelve separate mysteries that all feel quite unique. With that much, I have no problem. I just wish she didn't have the characters seems so stumped by the obvious in order to give Miss Marple a fighting chance.
I've always believed that Christie was, all in all, an exceptional story teller but poor writer. Some of her books succeed better than others in terms of writing style. This one doesn't. My biggest complaint is that most of the mysteries are presented in dialogue (since a character is telling the story to the other characters), and dialogue like this tends to be tricky. Nine times out of ten, you have to make a character say something that he probably wouldn't say. For instance, the elderly clergyman Dr Pender makes the following comment in describing the dramatis personae within his story:
There was also a young Dr. Symonds and there was Miss Diana Ashley. I knew something about the last named. Her picture was very often in the Society papers and she was one of the notorious beauties of the Season. Her appearance was indeed very striking. She was dark and tall, with a beautiful skin of an even tint of pale cream, and her half-closed eyes set slantways in her head gave her a curiously piquant oriental appearance. She had, too, a wonderful speaking voice, deep-toned and bell-like.May I just point out that no man talks like this. If he did (and particularly if he were a clergyman), we'd be concerned. If I were among those present listening to this description, I'd be sure to move my chair several feet away and preferably closer to a door. An external door.
Additionally, this would be pretty bad writing if it weren't dialogue. As dialogue, it's absurd. But given the nature of the genre, Christie's weak writing skills make it difficult for her to surpass its limitations.
It's not a total loss, of course. It has some cute moments, and a couple of the mysteries are borderline clever. If you're a fan of Agatha Christie and the Miss Marple stories, I'd recommend giving this one at least a quick pass-through. If you're on the fence, I don't really recommend it as there are far better Christie stories to track down.
Year of publication: 1933
Number of pages: 256