My thanks to Harper Collins UK for a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Sinister Spring: Murder and Mystery from the Queen of Crime (2023) is another season themed collection of (reprinted) short stories from Christie’s pen.  Like a previous volume of these I read Midsummer Mysteries (2021), we have in this collection 12 stories covering various types of crimes from murder to theft, and featuring both recurring detectives (Poirot and Marple, as also Tommy and Tuppence, Harley Quin, and Parker Pyne) as well as standalone stories. The seasonal elements are brought out by mostly by gardens and gardening, which feature in many of the stories

Opening as the previous volume did, with a short extract from Christie’s autobio, this time an episode called the Gunman, based on her childhood nightmare, we move to the first story featuring Poirot where he and Hastings, accompany Japp to Market Basing, in ‘The Market Basing Mystery’ with plans to enjoy a quiet weekend since ‘no one knows who they are’. So naturally, they are soon to be involved in a mystery, as the local constable seeks their help in investigating the death of a Mr Protheroe who was found shot but couldn’t have done so himself. Poirot reaches the answer of course, in this mystery the broad frame of which is the basis of another Christie short story as well.

‘The Case of the Missing Lady’ featuring Tommy and Tuppence was one new to me, and a rather fun story, with an adventurer who returns to England earlier than planned to find his fiancée has gone on a visit but isn’t to be found at the place she supposedly went to, nor do any friends know her whereabouts. Tommy and Tuppence get on the case to find a very unexpected answer, which leaves the reader with a smile on their face (though in the current context, perhaps not the most PC).

From The Thirteen Problems (a Marple collection in which dinner guests describe murders and mysteries they are aware of leaving it to the others to ‘solve’), we have ‘The Herb of Death’ where a young girl staying with her guardian, and on the verge of being married and starting a new life dies of poisoning when foxglove leaves are picked with the sage that is to be used for dinner. Mrs Bantry poses the problem rather simply, and it is from the other dinner guests’ questions that one gets to the nuances; but only Miss Marple sees things in the right light.

Featuring Hercule Poirot is ‘How Does Your Garden Grow’, again one I was familiar with. An old lady writes to Poirot seeking his help over a mysterious problem the details of which are not revealed in her letter, but before he can reach her, she is dead. Poirot decides to visit her home all the same and finds the police convinced it’s murder.

‘Swan Song’ is a more tragic standalone, where an opera star agrees to perform at a country house where she is invited, on condition that Tosca is what’s performed. Why, you have to read the story to find out!

‘Miss Marple Tells a Story’ sees Miss Marple tell of a case she’s personally proud of, where a lawyer Mr Pretherick approaches her to help a client who’s going to be accused of murder. The client is sceptical, but as he explains the circumstances of his wife’s death in a hotel where they were staying, Miss Marple is on to the answer.

A recently married young woman, travelling on the Simplon express in ‘Have You Got Everything You Want’ confides her troubles to Parker Pyne, suspicious her husband is attempting to harm her in some way while she is on the train. Pyne mayn’t be a ‘detective’ in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t stop him from reaching the rather unexpected solution to this mystery.

We’re back with Poirot in ‘The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan’ where Hastings treats Poirot to a stay at the Grand Metropolitan. There they run into the Opalsens and Mrs Opalsen who is very fond of jewellery, wishes to show them her priceless pearls, but the necklace vanishes before she can.

Also from The Thirteen Problems is ‘Ingots of Gold’ where Miss Marple’s nephew Raymond West narrates an incident that occurred with him when he visited an acquaintance in Cornwall who was looking for a ship lost in the Spanish Armada. But unfriendly locals and more recent events make the trip a more dangerous one than he bargained for.

‘The Soul of the Croupier’ takes us to Monte Carlo where Mr Satherthwaite (usually seen in the Harley Quin stories) is on his annual visit. Here he runs into an old acquaintance, the Countess Czarnova whom he’s seen there for years, each time in the company of a new admirer. On this trip, it’s a young American. A girl travelling with the young man truly cares for him, and Mr Satherthwaite realises they belong. Harley Quin is also on the scene, and the two can only look on as a drama with a thread of pathos unfolds.

Agatha Christie writes a very Wodehousian tale in ‘The Girl on the Train’ which rather reminded me of A Damsel in Distress by Wodehouse (even our ‘hero’ is called George, like George Bevan in Damsel). In this George Rowland, after a night on town and arriving late for work, is turned out by his uncle. He decides to head to Rowland Castle simply because it bears his name, and on the way in the train helps a beautiful young woman who seems to be running away from some one and dives into his compartment. This turns into the adventure of a lifetime as she entrusts him with a sealed package and asks him to trail a bearded stranger.

To wrap up the collection, we return to Miss Marple as her nephew Raymond West takes a friend to visit a property in the neighbourhood with an interesting story behind it, Greenshaw’s Folly, now lived in by an old Miss Greenshaw, the last of her family. Later, Raymond’s wife’s niece takes up a job there, only to become involved in a murder. Luckily, Miss Marple is there to ensure the puzzle is pieced together.

This was an entertaining collection which covered many moods from the tragic to the humorous, and gives the reader mysteries and puzzles, as also fun, adventure and and romance. One can get a taste of the various genres Christie writes in, though of course not the depth of her full-length mysteries. I liked all the stories in the collection (many of which were revisits for me) but my particular favourites this time were two of the humorous ones, ‘The Case of the Missing Lady’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ both new to me, and both loads of fun.

(Edition reviewed: Harper Collins, Kindle ARC; Hardcover, 240 pp.)


21 thoughts on “Book Review: Sinister Spring: Murder and Mystery from the Queen of Crime (2023) by Agatha Christie

    1. Hope you can find a copy sometime. I think it’s off NetGalley now. I couldn’t remember many from the titles but when I read them I realised there were more familiar ones than not. But Christie is always fun to revisit.


    1. They were indeed. I remember reading a letter from Wodehouse to Christie at some point highlighting similarities, and Val Mcdermid has an intro to my copy of Seven Dials about how Wodehousian the Chimneys books are as well!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you can find a copy 🙂 It was a good one. One of my goodreads groups did a Marple reading challenge about 4 years ago where we read one volume a month over the year, so I’ve read all the novels and possibly the short stories as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like that an established novel writer can also be good at short stories, though where Christie is concerned I do like to space out visiting her works as I personally would feel a bit jaded if I read them in close succession (as I did for Evil Under the Sun and And Then There Were None).

    But you remind me I have an unread collection of Edmund Crispin stories, and as it’s a while since I read him I think I may move it further up the TBR stack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there’s not very many who are good at both. I might be able to read a couple back to back but yes, too many together wouldn’t work as well.

      The Crispin short stories sound very good. I’ve only read full-length mysteries by him so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funnily enough, I was looking at this collection in a London bookshop yesterday as the beautiful spring-like cover caught my eye! It sounds great, and I like the sense of variety that comes across in your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cover is lovely, isn’t. That is the case for all the seasonal collections they’ve brought out so far. And both I’ve read have showcased a range of Christie stories, giving one a flavour of all her detectives


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