4:50 From Paddington, also published as What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw is the seventh of the Miss Marple books and I re-read this last week, having last read it in 2017 as part of a Miss Marple challenge. In this one, Elspeth McGillicuddy is travelling on a train from London (the 4:50 of the title), having done her Christmas shopping. Looking into a train passing by, she witnesses a man throttling a woman; but when she reports this, the railway authorities are inclined to dismiss it as a figment of her imagination, not helped by the fact that the ticket collector spots a magazine open near her with a story featuring the image of a girl being strangled. But Mrs McGillicuddy is on her way to visit a friend and that friend is none other than Jane Marple. So when she narrates her story to Miss Marple, the latter who knows her and that she is not inclined to be carried away by imagination of any sort, decides to look into the matter, even though having reported it to the police no body has been found, either on the train or any where else. But Miss Marple is convinced that something did happen, and being unable to undertake any physical activity herself, hires Lucy Eyelesbarrow, a graduate in mathematics who has taken up domestic service as a career—she only works for short periods, efficiently, and is paid highly for her services. Lucy takes on a position at Rutherford Hall, residence of Old Mr Crakenthorpe and his daughter Emma (the other children live away) in Brackhampton where Miss Marple has worked out the body could be, and of course, Lucy pokes around and finds it. While initially it seems to have nothing to do with the family in the hall, connections seem to pop up, and then further deaths. Meanwhile Mr Crakenthorpe’s young grandson and his pal have a fun time undertaking investigations of their own while the official investigation is handed over to Inspector Dermott Craddock, godson of Miss Marple’s old friend Sir Henry Clithering, and one who has seen a demonstration of her skills before.
This is one of my favourite Miss Marple mysteries (in fact it was in my list of Marple favourites that I made on my previous read: here), and has plenty of twists and turns while also being light-hearted and cosy. Miss Marple as always uses her particular strengths to solve the mystery—people, and her knowledge of human nature. Not only Lucy and Craddock but also her great-nephew David West (for his knowledge of trains; incidentally I only noticed on this read that this was a different nephew from the usual Raymond West, the author, though obviously related to him), Leonard the son of Griselda (the vicar’s wife who appeared in the first book) for his knowledge of maps, and her former maid Florence who runs a bed and breakfast in Brackhampton, to be near the scene.
Lucy and Craddock do the legwork, and Miss Marple who poses as Lucy’s aunt staying in the neighbourhood, manages to visit the house and do what she does best, understand each of the residents’ natures by drawing parallels with those she knows, like Mr Eade the bank manager, a little too fond of money or Jenkins at the garage who made money off small dishonest dealings. Alongside, there is also a touch of romance with Lucy having more than one suitors—that mystery, who she picks we are left to figure out ourselves. And yes, also plenty of food and cooking throughout. An enjoyable revisit, even though I remembered most of it.
Have you read this one? How did you like it? Among your favourite Miss Marples, or no? Looking forward to your thoughts!
Image source: Goodreads