Short Stories on Sunday

Today I’ve read one of the short stories from Agatha Christie’s collection Miss Marple and Mystery .

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This collection contains 55 stories, 20 of them featuring Miss Marple. I’ve read some of these in other short story collections but there are still many I haven’t read. There is an Short Story Chronology in the Appendix with a table aiming to present all Agatha Christie’s short stories published between 1923 and 1971, listed in order of traced first publication date.

Counting how many there are in total is a difficult task – some stories that first appeared in weekly or monthly magazines were later  re-worked and became chapters in a larger work, some in Partners in Crime were sub-divided into smaller chapters, 13 were re-worked into the episodic novel, The Big Four, and some were rewritten so substantially that they appear separately in different books!

Manx Gold has also been published as an e-book. It was first published in the Manchester Daily Dispatch between 23-28 May 1930, and as a booklet distributed throughout the island, as a treasure hunt to promote tourism in the Isle of Man. She received a fee of £65 (in today’s money over £4,000!)

Cousins, who are engaged, Fenella and Juan are left an intriguing puzzle by their uncle who lived in the Isle of Man – to find four ‘ treasure chests’, not gold ingots or coins, but actually snuff boxes. In addition there are two more relatives also search for the ‘gold’.

I thought it sounded good, but I have to say that I was rather disappointed by the slightness of this short story. Their uncle has left cryptic clues leading to the ‘chests’ and a couple of sketch maps to guide them to the treasure. But I had no idea what the clues mean and could only read Fenella’s exclamations when they work it out and find the little snuff boxes. Oh, there is also a murder – one of the other relatives is bashed on the head by the other one and left to die.

It’s quite an entertaining little story, but I much prefer Agatha Christie’s full length books.