Agatha Christie

Book Review: Sleeping Murder - by Agatha Christie

9:48 AM

Summary from goodreadsSoon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernise the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs... In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a 'perfect' crime committed many years before. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

"Let sleeping murder lie"

Sleeping Murder has sealed my impression of Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie is known for her mystery novels, and of her most famous novels is And Then There Were None. Personally, I believe Sleeping Murder should hold that title instead. If anything, Sleeping Murder is a satisfying read. It has a unique voice, thoroughly consistent characterization, just enough imagery, and a plot that will keep the reader engaged.

Firstly: the voice of the novel. The novel is written in a way so that it keeps the reader skeptical, but still leads them to draw their own deductions. The way this is done is interesting. Sleeping Murder is written in third person omniscient, meaning it follows all the characters in the story. So it follows Miss Marple, the renowned detective; Mr and Mrs Reed, the characters who brought a murder to Miss Marple's attention; and the side characters who play the roles of suspects and assistants. When the narrator is exposing Mr and Mrs. Reed's actions and thoughts, the prose is generally more straight forward. It clearly states who they think is guilty and why. However, when it comes to Miss Marple, the writing is more vague. The sections that narrate her thoughts are filled with ellipses galore and usually end with mini cliff hangers (in a sense). Because of the different ways Miss Marple and Mr and Mrs. Reed tackle the mystery, and because the reader reads both of their accounts, the reader ends up tackling the case in the same ways. They are, in a way, conditioned by the narrator to think the same way the characters think, which is why there is both skepticism (from Miss Marple) and rash deductions (from Mr and Mrs. Reed). With that being said, it should be noted that the writing style may not be to everyone's taste given that it's sometimes choppy.

As for the characterization, its consistency is something to be admired. The personalities are represented through both their speech and actions. Granted the fact that there is no development in regards to any of the characters, one has to keep in mind the fact that Sleeping Murder is a mystery novel, so the consistency of characterization is a more valuable asset than the development.

Sleeping Murder is not heavy with imagery. It does not go on to describe every little detail of the weather or the plants. Most of the imagery that is found in the story somehow contributes to the actual crime, making every detail in the novel significant to the case. If not for the purpose of assisting in the deduction of the crime, minimal imagery was given in order for the reader to have a general idea of what the scenes look like. But aside from that, Sleeping Murder does not spend time on things that are not essential to the plot.

All in all, Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder is definitely a book I'd recommend if you are a fan mystery novels and looking for a short, satisfying read.

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  1. This is a book I loved reading and can re-read anytime. A most ingenious way to approach a murder and the way in which Christie develops and solves it is something that is unique to her.
    I agree that she doesnt spend much time on imagery which is again a good thing.
    Well reviewed. :)

    -Njkinny @Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff