Nemesis by Agatha Christie (1971)

Miss Jane Marple was astonished to receive a letter from the solicitors of a Mr Rafiel after his recent death. He and Miss Marple had had a brief but very memorable acquaintance some years back and she thought that perhaps he may have left her some small memento, such as a book from his library. She was not prepared for the proposition Mr Rafiel’s solicitors presented to her as per his request.
He wanted her to investigate a crime after he had died but he had given no details of what the crime was, who was involved, or when or where it happened.

Miss Marple accepted the proposition, believing that somewhere, justice was involved. Her job would be to either set right an injustice or to avenge evil by bringing it to justice. Now she would just have to wait for further details advising her of how to proceed…

‘What was it about her that could make her useful to him, in anyway at all? She was an elderly, rather scatty, quite ordinary person, physically not very strong, mentally not nearly as alert as she used to be. What had been her special qualifications, if any?’

Nemesis is only the fourth Marple mystery I’ve read and after not initially liking her character, I’ve become quite fond of her. In this story her passion for justice is forefront and this brings out her character more than some other stories which highlight her ability to gossip her way through life. She shows a decided humility, as seen by the comment above, and some good old-fashioned morals regarding behaviour, loyalty and love.

‘Not a very nice business,’ said Miss Marple, in her most old-ladylike tone.

Professor Wanstead looked at her for a moment or two.

‘You describe it that way?’

‘It is how it seems to me,’ said Miss Marple. ‘I don’t like that sort of thing. I never have. If you expect me to feel sympathy, regret, urge an unhappy childhood, blame bad environment; if you expect me in fact to weep over him, this young murderer of yours, I do not feel inclined to do so. I do not like evil beings who do evil things.’

‘I am delighted to hear it,’ said Professor Wanstead.
‘What I suffer in the course of my profession from people weeping and gnashing their teeth, and blaming everything on some happening in the past, you would hardly believe, if people knew the bad environments that people have had, the unkindness, the difficulties of their lives and the fact that nevertheless they can come through unscathed, I don’t think they would so often take the opposite point of view.’

Nemesis is an interesting mystery that involves disordered love; love that becomes twisted, unbalanced and therefore dangerous. Miss Marple uses her ‘flair for justice,’ that quality Mr Rafiel had recognised in her, to unravel a mystery to reveal truth and let justice be done.

I liked Christie’s description of Professor Wanstead, a psychologist and pathologist with an interest in the criminal mind:

‘…a big man with square shoulders and a clumsy-looking body, looking as though he had been carelessly assembled by an ambitious child out of chunky bricks.’

Mr. Rafiel’s solicitor’s reaction to Miss Marple:

‘A nice and quite intelligent old lady. But really – Nemesis!’

Mr Rafiel had ended his letter to Miss Marple with this verse from the Old Testament in the Bible:

‘Let justice toll down like waters
And righteousness like an everlasting stream’
Amos

Nemesis – Avenger

I do like the cover of this book – it ties in with the mystery at the end. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Nemesis by Agatha Christie (1971)

  1. Ooh…I like the sound of this one. I’ve been working my way through Christie’s books, but still have a lot left to read. I’ll have to move this one up to the top of my list. 🙂

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  2. Hi Lark, I didn’t know this until well after I’d started this book but her book A Carribean Mystery relates her meeting with Mr Rafiel – it might be a good one to read first if you haven’t read it before – not that it was a problem not having read it but it might fill in some little gaps.
    I’m working my way through her books, too, but I keep finding titles new to me. I don’t mind having a problem like that!

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  3. I haven’t read this one yet but I’ve seen the movie and I can see that it leaves a venue for philosophical pondering. Right now I’m waiting for Murder on the Orient Express to come in from the library. I thought I owned it but no such luck and it’s taking awhile so my Christie reading is put on hold. It was great to read your review to keep my focus on it!

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    • We watched ‘The Mirror Crack’d’on the weekend. The 1980 movie with a whole lot of big names: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis… I thought Angela Lansbury made a wonderful Miss Marple although she certainly wasn’t as dotty as she seems in some of the books. I can’t compare her with any other actors but I enjoyed how she portrayed Marple.
      I recently finished Cat Among the Pigeons, which I realised I’d read years ago. I’ve been reading a few Christie books recently while waiting for my brain to return to it’s pre-flu state. They are great placebos!

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