Agatha Christie was one of my mainstays when I was very young. I devoured her books as I found them, whether the library or a bookstore. It’s been probably forty years since I last read one of her mysteries and likely a reread would be like a new book. I don’r recall ever reading any of her short works though, so I took Agatha Vhristie week on Forgotten Books to try a couple.
THE CASE OF THE PERFECT MAID finds Miss Marple being asked by her maid to help her cousin, who also worked as a maid in the same small village. She worked for a pair of spinster sisters, Lavinia and Emily Skinner, the former the older and bread winner, the latter the younger and a hypochondriac. A brooch had turned up missing and a search was made. The maid had helped. When one of the sisters made mention of calling the police, the brooch was found stuffed in the back of a drawer. Nothing was said, but when the maid broke a plate the next day she was let go, the implication being the cousin was thought to have taken the brooch, then became frightened at the mention of police. Her reputation was ruined as far as working as a maid. She wanted Miss Marple to prove her cousin innocent.
The perfect maid was the one hired to replace the cousin. She seemed to perfect for Miss Marple’s tastes. Which were right on cue. It wasn’t but a few weeks before she disappeared with all the sister’s jewelry, not to mention robbing the other three flats in the building.
It’s left to Miss Marple to figure it out and if th two separate incidents are connected.
A group had been dining and a young American girl, all of fifteen, had made a bet with a man named Isaac Pointz. He had a lucky diamond, the Morning Star, that he kept on his person at all times, and didn’t believe could be stolen from him. The bet was six pairs of silk stockings for her, a new tobacco pouch for him. She claimed to have figured a way to steal it that they couldn’t prove.
Pointz was to do exactly as he had the day before, passing the diamond around the room. He did so and when it got out to young Susie, it slipped from her hand and wasn’t found anywhere. She was searched by two ladies in the party and the room was torn apart. The room had been locked before she dropped the diamond.
Susie wins and when she shows them where she out it, a replacement with spirit gum of a paste replica that had fallen out of her clasp on her purse the day before.
The diamond was gone!
Someone had spotted it and stole it from the purse. Llewellyn was a suspect because while the mock theft was being investigated, he’d opened a window and asked a news boy to throw up a paper, dropping some coin for him. That was the only possible way the diamond could have gotten from the room.
Llewllyn knew he was innocent though.
It took Poirot three days to find the real thief.
This edition is the first appearance of the story in it’s original form since it’s initial appearance in 1936 in both The Chicago Tribune and The Strand magazine. For it’s book debut, Poirot was lifted as the detective and Parker Pyne substituted. Why I have no idea.
For more looks at Agatha Christie’s books, and likely others, drop in on Patti Abbott at her blog, Pattinase.