4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie: Book Review

4.50 from Paddington 1

I’d expected the 4.50 from Paddington (first published in 1957) to be set on a train going by its title, but actually it just begins on the train. Train timetables and routes feature quite highly though. Mrs McGillicuddy was going home from Christmas shopping in London when she saw from the window of her train a murder being committed in a train travelling on a parallel line. But nobody believes her because there is no trace of a body and no one is reported missing. Nobody, that is except for her friend Miss Marple.

Miss Marple is getting older and more feeble and she hasn’t got the physical strength to get about and do things as she would like. But she has a theory about the whereabouts of the woman’s body, having worked out the most likely place that a body could have been pushed or thrown out of the train and she enlists the help of Lucy Eyelesbarrow to find it. This takes Lucy to Rutherford Hall, the home of the Crackenthorpe family, a family with many secrets and full of tension.

It’s an intriguing puzzle because you know there has been a murder, that the victim was a woman but her identity is not known, until much later in the book. You also know that the murderer is a man and there are plenty of male suspects to consider. Even though Miss Marple explains it all at the end of the book and says that it was very, very simple – the simplest kind of crime, I didn’t find it simple at all and had no idea who the killer was or even the victim. How Miss Marple worked it out is down to intuition and she tricks the murderer into confessing his crime.

7 thoughts on “4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie: Book Review”

  1. This is one of my favorite Miss Marple mysteries. I love the character of Lucy and wish she had appeared again. Alas, this is her only appearance (as far as I know). Yes, Christie does take the reader on quite a journey in this one. The clues are there, but they are very difficult to spot unless you read it again and again.

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    1. Kay, I haven’t come across Lucy in any other AC book – more’s the pity, because I did like her. I think it would be a good idea to re-read this book, just to pick up the clues, because I missed them all this time!

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  2. Margaret – I’m so glad you liked this one! I thoroughly enjoyed it, myself, and it is really an intriguing puzzle, I think. What I also like about it is the way that Christie is able to bring in some deeper themes (like ageism, sexism and social class) without taking away from the puzzle. Fine review!

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    1. Thanks, Margot. Christie’s views on capital punishment also come from Miss Marple when she says in the last chapter she’s very, very sorry that they have abolished capital punishment because she feels that if there is anyone who ought to hang it’s …

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