I have a question for all of the people who say they always know ‘who did it’ when they read Agatha Christie novels. How do you figure it out?
I don’t think I’m particularly stupid and I’ve read loads of her books, but I never manage to pick the murderer before Agatha Christie tells me in the last chapter who it is, why they did it and how it all happened. Third Girl was no exception, I had no idea of the murderer.
Third Girl is a Hercule Poirot mystery. Mrs Oliver, the renowned novelist and great friend of M. Poirot, plays an important part in this novel also. Mrs Oliver, in one of the first chapters, tells M. Poirot how much she hates the much loved fictional detective who has starred in a great many of her own novels. I had a bit of snicker to myself, wondering if Agatha Christie used Mrs Oliver as a mouthpiece to have a gentle dig at her own star detective?
Anyway, on with the plot of Third Girl. The ‘third girl’ is Norma Restarick, a young woman who shares a London flat during the 1960s with two other young women. Worryingly, Norma may or may not have murdered someone. Norma visits M. Poirot, seemingly for help, but then tells him he is too old to be of assistance and leaves without giving him further details of the murder.
I found the ‘too old to be of assistance’ angle to be quite interesting, because the characters in this novel are divided between young, arty, long haired mods and the older conservative people, who disapprove of the drugs, long hair and free and easy ways of the younger crowd and my feeling was that Agatha Christie tried a bit too hard to keep up with the times during this novel. I suspect she belonged on the side of the older, disapproving point of view too. I’ve no idea how old Agatha Christie would have been when she wrote Third Girl, and am too tired to ‘Google’ this information, but I strongly suspect she wasn’t wearing mini skirts and taking purple pills during the 1960s, although her characters certainly were.
Despite his hurt feelings at being thought old, M. Poirot and Mrs Oliver investigate Norma and her family, (Mrs Oliver has run across the Restarick family socially) and they find more and more mysteries as they snoop around in Restarick’s homes and lives. Not surprisingly, Mrs Oliver gets ‘coshed’ on the head while snooping.
In order to solve the mystery, M. Poirot ‘reflects.’ I don’t think he actually mentioned his ‘little grey cells’ once in this novel, but he certainly worked it all out in the end, although sadly after several people were actually murdered. Still, in Agatha Christie novels, murders happen.
I don’t think Third Girl is one of Agatha Christie’s better novels, but it is still an enjoyable read.