Friday, March 19, 2010

The Mysterious Mr. Quin

Perhaps one of Agatha Christie's most underappreciated yet nevertheless fascinating characters is the mysterious Mr. Harley Quin.

Always appearing unpredictably and in a dazzling spectrum of light, Mr. Quin's essence is best summed up thus: he comes; he goes. And always, he trails a mystery in his wake.

The task of sorting out the mysterious circumstances signaled by the inscrutable movements of Mr. Quin falls on the shoulders of one Mr. Satterthwaite, a man as preening and with as sharp an eye for the dramatic as his name suggests.

The Mysterious Mr. Quin (1930), then, is one of Miss Lemon's favourite collections of short stories, all featuring this bizarre yet eminently likable pair. 

The stories run the gamut from table-turning to ill-fated love. Perhaps the best of the lot are "The Dead Harlequin," in which a painting for sale at Harchester Galleries harks back to a long-ago curse on the house of Charnley, and "At the Bells & Motley," about the troubling consequences of unsolved murder.

In all of these cases, to paraphrase Mr. Satterthwaite, where Mr. Quin is concerned, things happen.  Indeed, with their faint element of the supernatural, these stories are a delightful departure from the usual Poirot and Miss Marple.

But, please, do not tell Mr. Poirot I said so.


  1. I can't wait to read this! Thank you.

  2. I just read this one and I really enjoyed it.