Sinister Spring by Agatha Christie

Watching the detectives…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Over the last few years, HarperCollins have been bringing out a series of lovely hardback collections of Agatha Christie short stories. Some have been reprints of existing collections, like The Tuesday Club Murders (aka The Thirteen Problems) or The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, while others are a mix of stories culled from various collections and put together to create a seasonal theme, such as Midsummer Mysteries and Midwinter Murder (which I haven’t read). This is their latest and, as you can tell from the title, it’s perfect for this time of year (unless you’re on the upside down half of the world!). If you’ve read a lot of Christie collections you may well find you’ve come across most of the stories before, but I always enjoy reading them again anyway and there are usually two or three in each collection that are new to me. Because these are taken from various other collections, there’s a real mix of detectives – Poirot and Miss Marple, of course, but also Tommy and Tuppence, Parker Pyne and Harley Quin, plus a couple of stories that don’t star one of her recurring ‘tecs.

There are twelve stories in this one, and since regular Christie readers might want to know whether there are enough unfamiliar stories to tempt them, here’s a list of all twelve with tiny synopses that hopefully will be enough to let you know if it rings bells. My rating is in brackets:

The Market Basing Mystery (4) – Poirot, Hastings and Japp are on a little break in Market Basing when a man is found dead. It looks like he’s shot himself, but the doctor thinks this isn’t possible. A man is arrested and it’s up to our three sleuths to determine whether he is guilty or innocent.

The Case of the Missing Lady (5) – A Tommy and Tuppence story from Partners in Crime. In this one, Tommy is playing Holmes. An adventurer returns from the North Pole to find that his fiancée is missing. Can T&T track her down? Manages to be both tense and humorous – delightful twist!

The Herb of Death (4½) – One from The Tuesday Club Murders, I think. (I’m basing all these references to original sources on my unreliable memory, so forgive errors and omissions!) Mrs Bantry tells of a house party where foxglove got mixed in with the sage. All the guests recovered but one – a young girl called Sylvia. Was it bad luck or deliberate murder, and if so, why? Miss Marple will soon tell us…

How Does Your Garden Grow? (4) – Poirot receives a letter from an old lady requesting his help in an unspecified matter, but before he sees her, she dies. With the help of Miss Lemon, he starts quietly investigating her household to see if her death was suspicious or merely convenient. Rather reminiscent of the plot of one of her novels.

Swan Song (4) – An unexpected death during a performance of Tosca kicks off this dark and well-told revenge tragedy – a standalone with none of the usual ‘tecs.

Miss Marple Tells a Story (5) – From Miss Marple’s Final Cases. A woman is murdered while sleeping in a hotel bedroom. Her husband is accused, and his lawyer turns to his old friend Miss Marple for help. She soon works out why it seems no one noticed the murderer enter the room. An excellent howdunit!

Have You Got Everything You Want? (5) – Parker Pyne is on a train journey to Venice when a fellow passenger asks for his advice. She is travelling to meet her husband, but before she left she saw a message on his blotting pad which has left her fearful that something is planned to happen just before they reach Venice. Well-told and quite humorous, especially the ending!

The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan (4) – A howdunit about a woman whose priceless necklace is stolen while she and her husband are dining with Poirot. Another one where the plot is overly familiar to provide much in the way of surprise.

Ingots of Gold (4½) – Another Tuesday Club one, I think, this time told by Miss Marple’s nephew Raymond. It’s quite convoluted for a short story, involving two lots of missing bullion – one from Spanish Armada days, and one from a recent shipwreck. Set in Cornwall, it’s well told and entertaining.

The Soul of the Croupier (5) – The story of an ageing Countess, past lover of many rich men who showered her with jewels. But now her charms are beginning to fade, and she’s desperate for money, having long ago turned all those jewels to paste. While there is a mystery starring Harley Quin, it’s really the oddly sympathetic depiction of the Countess that raises this one above the average.

The Girl in the Train (5) – Light Wodehousian romp as our young hero, George Rowland, gets mixed up in the elopement of a Balkan Princess, plus a spy ring, and falls in love. Silly, but fun!

Greenshaw’s Folly (5) – Greenshaw’s Folly is a house built by a rich man, long dead. His elderly granddaughter now owns the place, and she has been dropping hints to various people that she intends to leave them the house in her will. When the old lady is murdered, Miss Marple becomes involved! An excellent story, taken from The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.

As you can see, all the stories rated between 4 and 5 for me – it is Christie after all! So unless you’re already familiar with most of the stories, this would be a great way to sample her range of detectives. And the hardback editions all have lovely bright designs which make them an attractive gift idea for the Christie fan in your life!

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, HarperCollins.

Amazon UK Link

37 thoughts on “Sinister Spring by Agatha Christie

  1. This is absolutely right for this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, FictionFan! I’ve read a few of those stories before, and liked them very much, but not all of them. I really must put this right on the wish list; it’s always so much fun to see some new-to-me stories in collections like these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Although they’ve produced quite a few of these collections over the last few years, there are always a few stories in each one that are new to me. And the hardback copies are always nicely done – great shelf appeal! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately my memory never really retains stories very well, so I can re-read Christie quite happily and at least half the time I’ll have completely forgotten whodunit! And the hardback versions of these collections are attractively done – great shelf appeal!


    • I think Greenshaw’s Folly is one of her most collected stories – I’m pretty sure I must have read it at least three times in the last couple of years in different collections! But despite all my Christie reading there were still a few stories in this one that were new to me too, and they were all fun! The hardback versions are so nice that they would be an excellent addition to a birthday list! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These sound delightful — and how can you go wrong with Christie anyway?! Some of the stories sound a bit familiar, but I don’t know whether I’ve read them or I’ve read one of your reviews. So yes, definitely tempted!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The hardback versions of these are really attractive, which makes them a fun way to read the stories even if some of them are familiar. But despite all the collections that I’ve read over the last few years there are still always a few stories in each one that I haven’t come across before. Temptation can be a good thing… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think there were only two or three that I hadn’t read before, but I never mind rereading them because my memory rarely retains details anyway. Haha, yes, I loved the twist at the end of The Case of the Missing Lady! 😉


  3. Hmmm… I tend to prefer science fiction when reading short stories, but I’m really tempted by this. I might already have that Christmas Pudding collection tagged at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was looking at the British Library’s most recent catalogue the other day and it looks as if they’ve maybe stopped doing the science fiction anthologies. Which would be a pity! I’m not always a big fan of mystery short stories because there’s not an awful lot of room in them for a complicated plot, but Christie is really good at getting a humorous touch into a lot of them, which makes them fun even if the actual mystery bit is quite slight.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been collecting these hardbacks too and Sinister Spring arrived just the other day. Some sound familiar from the titles but I don’t mind re-reading, as I probably wouldn’t remember them anyway 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the same, my memory really doesn’t retain plots and details which happily means that I can reread stories and novels several times and still be surprised by whodunit! I love these hardbacks. They’re so nicely designed – great shelf appeal! Hope you enjoy this one. 😀


    • I’m wondering what they’ll do now that they’ve worked their way through the seasons! The hardback versions really are attractive – great shelf appeal – and even although some of the stories have appeared in other collections before they’re still great fun to read or reread. Hope you manage to get yourself organised for Midsummer! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so addicted to vintage mysteries now they’re a year round thing! It’s been fun seeing the seasonal collections although, a bit like Wodehouse, the sun nearly always shines in Christie’s world… except when it snows. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, even though I’ve usually read several of the stories before, there are always a few that are new to me, and anyway my memory is so unretentive that I can reread stories quite happily. And the hardback versions of these are so attractive – great shelf appeal!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, fabulous collection with all 4 and 5s! I must say I wish these were available here in Canada, these re-releases look fabulous. And while I say that, I’ll double check to make sure they aren’t available here. Last time I checked they weren’t, but maybe HC has had a change of heart?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s annoying that they don’t co-ordinate publishing better – how often am I tempted by a Canadian novel only to find it’s not available here! Hope you manage to get your hands on these sometime. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have the book of all the Poirot short stories and when I read ones that were adapted with Suchet as Poirot, I always remember the solution, even though the story may have been embellished in the TV series. And I enjoy the story less in short stories if I already know how it ends. I don’t know why my memory is so good in this area, when it seems to be deteriorating in every other way.

    However, I probably would enjoy these collections. I just don’t think I am willing to pay the price when I already have several collections by sleuth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I moan about my rotten memory in most circumstances, but I must say it works really well in terms of allowing me to re-read stories and novels! There are some Christie novels that I must have read five or six times and yet still when I start rereading them I realise that I can’t remember whodunit. But I can quite see why if you do remember the stories that these collections wouldn’t appeal – although there are always one or two in them that I haven’t come across before, most of the stories have been collected quite often.


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