My 52 Weeks With Christie: The Tuesday Night Club (UK)
Also Known As: The Solving Six (US)
Series: A Miss Marple Short Story by Agatha Christie
First Published: 1927 in The Royal Magazine UK
Summary: Raymond West and a few friends have gathered at his Aunt’s house for dinner, drinks and conversation. One of the guests is a former commissioner of Scotland Yard, and Raymond (and the other guests in their turn) claim that each of them are as well (if not better) suited to solving crime as the inspectors of Scotland Yard. So Raymond proposes that they meet weekly and pose to the group a crime of which they have knowledge of (and the solution to) and let the group chew it over and try and solve it.
Our first crime covers the murder of a wife, where the husband is suspected but no one can prove he did the deed!
Review: The first thing I feel compelled to do, even if those of you may already know this fact, is point out that The Tuesday Night Club short stories are where Miss Marple makes her first appearance in the Christie canon! Now you may wonder why I am harping on this...Well, in doing research over the past couple of years I have discovered a number of websites and articles out there who publish - inaccurately - that the 1930 mystery Murder At The Vicarage is our fluffy spinster’s first appearance, which it is obviously is not as these shorts appeared about three years earlier. I think the confusion stems from these writers only looking at when the collection of short stories was first published as a compilation piece in 1932, The Thirteen Problems (UK) - without looking beyond this point at when each individual story first appeared in print. I realize I am harping on this point, but it chafes each time I read about another spinster detective and her author who someone claims that Christie “borrowed” the idea of Miss Marple from. I guess I am a bigger fan than even I realized!
Overall I liked this story, I think it is great how each person overlooks Miss Marple and her experience. I don’t believe it is a sexist thing as some would first point out - but more of an ageist issue. The dinner guests cannot believe that this elderly, “sheltered” white-haired knitting spinster could have any acquaintance with the dark and sinister underpinnings of life? So they are completely taken aback when she want to put forth her own thoughts on how the murder was committed. Which is absolutely great fun to read! I cannot wait to read the rest of the stories!
*Bit of a spoiler ahead, you can put the method together if you read further on.*
“...so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly.” - Tuesday Night Murder Club, page 4
Random Fact: Sprinkles. Seriously one of the best baking inventions ever! They brighten up cookies, cakes and ice cream making them look so happy, festive and a bit carnival like! I love these little bits of sugar just in case you couldn’t tell. The thing is when I was reading The Tuesday Night Club there was a reference to something called hundreds-and-thousands which topped a trifle and I had absolutely no idea what Christie was talking about! Which made the solution to the story just a bit confusing - until I used the trusty internet to figure out what Christie was referring to!
Well as it turns out just like the cupcake - which is called a fairy cake in the UK - sprinkles also go by another name in the UK and taste as sweet! While I am sure this information will not surprise any of you, what we call sprinkles are also known as hundreds-and-thousands in the UK.
But if you’d like to be completely technical the name of this type of sprinkle is actually called Nonpareils, a French term which means “without equal” referring to their use on cakes, confections and candies, making them look fantastic. Up until the early 19th century, the sprinkles were pure white, as the colored ones are a more recent invention. It is thought that these sprinkles probably evolved from the pharmaceutical use of sugar back in the day (before the 18th century-ish). However their origin is still a bit uncertain until they started appearing in recipes, of which we have a number still survive from this period- which is rather fortuitous.
So while reading the The Tuesday Night Club (the 1st story as well as the name of several of the compilations, just to keep things straight) keep this little tidbit in mind and I think the solution will be a bit clearer for you, than it was for me in the beginning!
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2016