Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery

Agatha Christie’s novel, ‘Nemesis’, was first published in 1971. It is the twelfth in the Miss Marple series of novels and it contains specific references to characters from and the plot of ‘A Caribbean Mystery.’

It begins with Miss Marple perusing the obituaries and discovering that an acquaintance, Mr Jason Rafiel, has passed away. He was her foil in ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ – a cripple and a rich financier – they were not friends, only mere allies in the capture of a murderer. Mr Rafiel’s lawyers contact Miss Marple and it is at her meeting with them that we discover the hook of the story. Mr Rafiel left instructions to reward Miss Marple with 20,000 pounds if she can successfully right a great injustice. The problem is, she does not know exactly what that injustice is and what her task entails.

She is sent on a tour of Famous Houses and Gardens. She reaches a town which has a history of murder and through her interactions with other passengers and townsfolk – at times led by Mr Rafiel’s posthumous instructions –  she finds out what the mystery is which needs her specific skill set of sniffing out evil. In the process of her investigation, she meets three sisters who seem to be draped in an atmosphere of sadness and without giving too much of the mystery away, it is the three sisters who appear to hold the key to the conundrum.

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I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Given that in the Miss Marple movies that I have seen, I have always been bothered by her dithering manner – I found her to be quite endearing in this book. I especially enjoyed the way that she often spoke to herself aloud and also that she was embracing her old age, as opposed to fighting tooth and nail against it. She used all her wits to outsmart everyone who came along and she was even able to confidently stand up to the perpetrator at the end of the novel.

I also enjoyed the story and the mystery as it unravelled in front of me. There were plenty of twists and turns, and although I picked the twist before the ending, the book came to a satisfying conclusion.

It would be remiss of me not to mention one particular issue that I had with this novel. There were a number of rants throughout about ‘women these days, asking to be raped,’ or ‘women sleeping around and therefore are not able to be raped.’ Mostly these ideas were expressed by the male characters in the novel. I was uncertain whether Agatha Christie was attempting to make a comment on men of the time (1970’s) and their attitude towards rape, or whether she was trying to express her own ideas on the changing roles of women in society as she saw it (i.e. obtaining a sexual identity and promiscuity that she wasn’t fond of).

I am aware of the changing times and that in some of her writing Agatha Christie has espoused some very outdated views – however I don’t think that victim shaming has ever been in vogue.

I would recommend reading ‘Nemesis’ for the story-line – although there is some repetition of the facts throughout – and the mystery itself is quite entertaining. If you are able to overlook the unsavoury victim shaming comments, then it is certainly worth the read.

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