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At Bertram's Hotel [Audio]
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A BBC Radio 4 dramatisation starring June Whitfield as the sharp-witted spinster sleuth.

About the Author

Agatha Christie, the acknowledged 'Queen of Crime' (The Observer) was born in Torquay in 1890. During the First World War she worked as a hospital dispenser, and it was here that she gleaned the working knowledge of various poisons that was to prove so useful in her detective stories. Her first novel was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced Hercule Poirot to the world. This was published in 1920 (although in fact she had written it during the war) and was followed over the next six years by four more detective novels and a short story collection. However, it was not until the publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd that Agatha Christie's reputation was firmly established. This novel, with its complex plot and genuinely shocking conclusion, attracted considerable public attention and has since been acknowledged by many experts as a masterpiece. In 1930 the sharp-witted spinster sleuth Miss Marple made her first appearance in The Murder at the Vicarage. In all, Agatha Christie published over 80 novels and short story collections. The brilliance of Christie's plots, and her enduring appeal, have led to several dramatisations of her work on radio, television and film. In 1930 she was one of a number of crime writers asked to contribute a chapter to a mystery, Behind the Screen, that was broadcast on BBC radio on 21st June that year. More recently, June Whitfield portrayed Miss Marple on BBC Radio 4, whilst John Moffat starred as Hercule Poirot. On screen, Peter Ustinov, David Suchet, Margaret Rutherford, Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie have all memorably played Agatha Christie's famous sleuths. As her play The Mousetrap (the longest-running play in the history of theatre) testifies, Agatha Christie's detective stories are likely to appeal for a long time to come. Agatha Christie was awarded a CBE in 1956 and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971. She died in 1976.

Reviews

At Bertram's Hotel, the guests enjoy sumptuous, late afternoon teas, the rosy-faced chambermaids wear real caps, and the doorman is always happy to assist an elderly person into a taxi. Miss Jane Marple, down from the country for a short visit, finds the Edwardian atmosphere both pleasant and disturbing. How can the hotel owners afford to provide such luxurious service at such low rates? When absentminded old Canon Pennyfather disappears and the doorman is killed, Miss Marple, amateur detective extraordinaire, assists the police to find the truth. Christie is best known for her upper-class English mysteries; here she directly confronts (and spoofs) the radical class and lifestyle shifts that took place in England during her own long life. Rosemary Leach is a highly competent narrator, with a clear yet unobtrusive reading style. Recommended for all but the smallest recreational audiobook collections. In The Mirror Crack'd, change has arrived at St. Mary's Mead. There is a new housing development, a gleaming new supermarket on the high street, and the manor house that used to belong to Colonel and Mrs. Bantry has been sold to famous movie actress Marina Gregg. Heather Babcock is a plain housewife who lives in the new development. At a housewarming event for the remodeled mansion, Marina passes Heather a cocktail, and a few minutes later, Heather is dead. Police inspector Craddock is called to investigate and immediately consults local spinster and amateur sleuth Jane Marple. Of course, after suitable diversions, she solves the case. Fortunately there is more to this book than a somewhat simplistic plot-it is a gentle exploration of societal changes in mid-20th-century England. Relationships between classes, shopping habits, even clothing are in flux. Wisely, Miss Marple (and presumably Christie) recognizes that though change can be good or bad, it is always interesting. Leach has a beautiful, clear voice, individual characters are well differentiated, and linking text is unobtrusive. Not one of the author's best novels but recommended for moderate to large collections.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

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