Nemesis

by Agatha Christie

Hardcover, 1971

Call number

MYST CHR

Collection

Genres

Publication

Dodd Mead (1971), Edition: 1st, 271 pages

Description

Fiction. Mystery. HTML: In Agatha Christie's baffling detective story, Nemesis, a letter from a dead man instructs Miss Marple how to conduct an investigation into a puzzlingly unspecific crime. In utter disbelief, Miss Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel�??an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels. He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intriguing. Soon she is faced with a new crime�??the ultimate crime�??murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remained buried. .

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaionvin
In which I mostly skirt around my incredibly long and ever-expanding views on societal victim-shaming because who has days to type that up and people just want to know about the wacky British people, for godssake

Nemesis starts very intriguingly, with Mr. Rafiel, introduced in A Caribbean Mystery
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leaving Miss Marple in his will twenty-thousand pounds, given she solve a mystery for him. Old hat for Miss Marple, right? Except she won't be told the who, the what, the where, or the when of the crime, only the code word "Nemesis".

I feel a little guilty giving this a lower rating than A Caribbean Mystery, as it does feature a much more involving mystery, full of messed-up psycho-sexual dimensions to which Agatha Christie gives much more body than Caribbean trifle. But it is also in need of a judicious amount of editing: it takes a far bit to get moving, the same clues and recaps of events are repeated incessantly, and Christie's style heavily leans on dialogue where a little narration would be a lot more efficient. This undermines the solid core of the story Christie is weaving, but more problematic is her shockingly regressive views, which arise in several contexts, but most specifically as those that shame how young women of "today"(1971 is the publication date) act too "loosely".

This is most egregious in some victim-shaming that occurs, which crops up not once but multiple times by several different characters. I chose one example to discuss, just because it's the most elaborated, but the other examples are much the same. **MILD SPOILERS, if you don't want to know anything about what the case is** The following are words from a crime/police-psychologist, who thinks the man in question does not have the personality of someone capable of the murder of a girlfriend for which he's been convicted. Said convict is a known compulsive liar, thief, gangster, delinquent baby daddy, and who was involved in a previous assault case with another girlfriend: (excuse the length, but I wanted to give you the fullest context necessary)

"That [earlier case] told against him, of course. Not in the jury's mind, because of course they did not hear about that until after the judge's summing up, but certainly in the judge's mind [...] I made a few inquiries myself afterwards. He had assaulted a girl. He had conceivably raped her, but he had not attempted to strangle her and in my opinion--I have seen a great many cases which come before the assizes--it seemed to me highly unlikely that there was a very definite case case of rape. Girls, you must remember, are far more ready to be raped nowadays than they used to be. Their mothers insists, very often, that they should call it rape. The girl in question had had several boy friends who had gone further than friendship. I did not think it counted very greatly as evidence against him. The actual murder case--yes, that was undoubtedly murder--but I continued to feel by all the tests [...] none of them accorded with this particular crime."

Yes, a man who fits many of the dimensions by which we define sociopathy, and who has a history of violence towards a girlfriend, is totally incapable of committing a murder (of which he was convicted even without the details of the assault-case being heard at trial, a trial where he had the best defense money could buy). He beat her, but he didn't strangle her, so he's clearly he's a nonviolent soul. Women who have had several boyfriends cannot be raped. She's lying. These later two implications are particularly horrible and hurtful, because besides being ugly and ignorant and false, are also much more prevalent even today than they should be in any right-minded society.**end spoilers**

I'm not demonizing Agatha Christie. I haven't read enough of her to characterize her work as a whole or to really disseminate her worldview. But I do think it's very telling looking at the publication dates of her most popular works, that most of them were from the 30s and 40s and none of them were from the 60s or the 70s. As a character, Miss Marple represents to me a subversive celebration of qualities that are normally derided in Western culture as being stereotypical-elderly-people traits-- and so it's incredibly disappointing to have her instead be a figurehead of stereotypical qualities are just plain ugly.

Note: Nemesis is the basis of one of my favorite Agatha Christie's Marple episodes (2007), staring Geraldine McEwan. It's a little camp and a lot of fun, and it irons out most of the unfortunate implications. I recommend the series in general. It's nice slight viewing that has a great sense of humor about itself.
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LibraryThing member smik
At 81 years, Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976) is nearing the end of her writing life - in fact she will write only two more novels after NEMESIS although four will be published, the last one posthumously.

1971, NEMESIS - Miss Marple
1972, ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER - Poirot
1973, POSTERN OF FATE (Last
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novel Christie ever wrote) - Tommy and Tuppence
1975, CURTAIN (Poirot's last case, written about 35 years earlier)
1976, SLEEPING MURDER (Miss Marple's last case, written about 35 years earlier)

The novel begins with Miss Marple sitting in her front room, no longer able to venture into the garden. The emphasis is on how much she has aged, as well as how times have changed.
It takes her some little while to identify the name Rafiel that she reads in the death notices, and then things come flooding back about the holiday she spent in the Caribbean and the mystery she became involved in there. (See A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY).
Mr Rafiel, in his bequest gives her the option of staying at home and continuing to do her knitting, or of undertaking a little task on his behalf, in her role as Nemesis, the harbinger of Justice. However she needs to discover for herself what injustice has been committed.

When Miss Marple joins a Famous Homes and Gardens bus tour, ticket organised and paid for by Mr Rafiel prior to his death, she discovers she is one of sixteen passengers. She immediately notices that there are four other "elderly ladies", two in their seventies, more or less her age, and two in their sixties. As I am older than these two I was somewhat amused. Anybody who has been on a similar bus tour will enjoy her observations about the other passengers. Her categorisation of retired people being middle-aged seems a little inconsistent with modern terminology.

There are times in NEMESIS when Jane Marple seems a bit "slow off the mark" but I think Christie does a good job in summarising why Miss Marple has had so many murders fall into her lap. I presume that Christie here had an image of her female sleuth as being just a little younger than herself, although for much of her writing life Jane Marple was actually older. In fact she was old when she first came on the scene, and seems not to have aged that much at all. The question of how old Jane Marple really is, is always an interesting contemplation.

I don't think I have actually ever read this novel right through. I have seen various televised versions, but none quite matched the actual plot of the book. There is a lot of Christie's philosophy about the nature of sin, whether there are any truly unredeemable characters, whether there is a detectable miasma of evil. I came expecting to be a little disappointed with the quality of the writing, expecting Christie to write as an old person who maybe had "lost her marbles", but came away satisfied. Perhaps it did stretch the limits of credibility a little - Mr Rafiel seemed to have thought of everything - but it was a nice swan song for Jane Marple.
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LibraryThing member smik
Some years earlier, when on holiday in the Caribbean, Miss Marple had met Jonas Rafiel and together they had solved a mystery. Now, a number of years on, he has died, but with some"unfinished business" on his mind, and he leaves a bequest for Miss Marple, dependent on her carrying out his request.
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She is contacted by his lawyers who hand her a letter from him offering her £20,000. At that stage there is no detail about what he wants her to do apart from the fact that he is keen to see that justice is to be done, and he reminds her of the fact she once told him that she saw herself as Nemesis, the harbinger of justice.

So she begins her quest two days letter by joining a bus tour of Famous Hoses and Gardens of Great Britain with 15 other people. She really still has no idea of what Mr Rafiel wanted her to do, but she has already begun some investigations of her own into his background. As the bus trip progresses it becomes clear that although he hasn't told Miss Marple much, Mr Rafiel has assumed she will accept his request, and he has done several things to clear the way for her.

By the middle of the novel I thought the nature of Miss Marple's quest had become obvious, but at the same time, the narrative was frustratingly slow, almost as if Christie wanted us to think about what makes a person a good detective etc. And then came the first death when one of the passengers from the bus tour was killed, struck by a large boulder. Things speeded up a bit after that.

I can understand if readers are of two minds with this book. It is very different from most of the Miss Marple books, and I thought it was a bit obvious that Christie wanted to explore what made Jane Marple so sensitive to the presence of evil, what made her so determined to see that justice was done. There are sections of text that are almost rambling.

You will have seen that I have read this before. I am re-reading it with my U3A Agatha Christie reading group and I will be interested to see whether or not they have enjoyed it. We will follow our discussion with the viewing of one of the television interpretations but I have yet decided whether it will be the Joan Hickson or the Geraldine McEwan one, probably the former I think, in the hope that it sticks closer to the original book. Which do you think it should be? (We don't have time for both)
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LibraryThing member rosalita
And so we come to the end of the line, the last Miss Marple in my ordered re-read. I'm sorry to say goodbye to Jane, who as always is the smartest cookie in the tin, the brightest bulb in the chandelier, the sharpest knife in the drawer. She takes on a posthumous challenge from Mr. Rafiel, whom we
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met in A Caribbean Mystery, and solves a decade-old multiple murder mystery without dropping a stitch in her nonstop knitting of babies' jackets and fluffy pink shawls. What a woman.
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LibraryThing member Matke
Although this is a very late Christie, written well beyond her golden era, the opening chapter is a sheer delight in the author's classic style, as Miss Marple indulges in a long, discursive meditation on reading the newspapers.

Miss M., despite being considerably aged and lame ("On'e feet are not
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what one would like feet to be," she silently laments as she contemplates her infirmities), she's still very sharp, if a bit more scattered, and able to spot a killer with ease. The careful reader will spot the truth fairly early on, but getting to Miss Marple's conclusions is interesting, if not as much fun as the earlier novels.

One thing that makes this less than her best book is the absence of some of the characters from her standard books. A good relaxing read, but not her best book.

If you like Christie, do give this a chance.
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
I didn't remember this book very well at all, but of course I have seen the Joan Hickson adaptation. Even so, I found that I was not completely sure about who did it (I remembered that it was one of the sisters but Christie was very good at her misdirection!)

Emilia Fox did a fine job narrating.
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
Later Christie and perhaps not quite up to her usual standard, but still it *is* Miss Marple who manages to triumph in her delving - and, gets out of bed at the end to prove it.
LibraryThing member chibiju
I found Miss Marple a delightful character. Her persistence to solve the mystery (even if it was to find what the mystery was) endeared her to me. The way she was written also makes her likable. The ending is a twist but well executed and believable. I particularly enjoyed Miss Marple's last lines
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in the book :D
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LibraryThing member Figgles
Re-read after watching the travesty that was the "Marple" TV adapataion (which seems to have been written by someone who read a brief summary the plot and had not paid attention in either history or RE classes at school). It is a much better book, Miss Marple, at the behest of a recently dead
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acquaintance is sent on a coach tour with instructions to right a wrong, to see justice done, in fact to once again become Nemesis in a pink fluffy shawl. Excellent.
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LibraryThing member 2percentmilk
Kinda dull, but still a good cozy mystery!
LibraryThing member JulesJones
The last of the Marple novels to be written, and the second last in chronological order. It shows, with Miss Marple feeling her age, and feeling the loss of her ability to tend to her garden herself. But her gardening skills feature strongly in this book, as she uses them to test the claimed
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background of various suspects. Marple herself doesn't know what the mystery is at first, because she has been asked by an acquaintence from a previous case to investigate something for him -- only the request is set up to be delivered after his death, and with no actual information about the case, simpy instructions that take her to places where she can observe and form her own conclusions untainted by his biases. Marple is indeed the Nemesis that Jason Rafiel was hoping for, bringing a late but much-needed justice to an old case.

I thought the writing could have been tighter, but Marple herself was a delight in this book. Enjoyed this a lot.
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LibraryThing member BookPurring
I love Agatha Christie! Nemesis is the goddess of retribution, and that is what Miss Marple is in this story. Nemesis is a Miss Marple mystery, and I have to say, it is probably my favorite Miss Marple mystery (my favorite Agatha novels are from Poirot). Miss Marple is thrown into a mystery by a
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letter of an old friend, and she has pretty much nothing to start with. It's very fun seeing how she begins to collect this information throughout the story, as opposed to other mysteries where she has some facts to start with.
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LibraryThing member NellieMc
Classic Ms. Marple -- what's not to love? And this is actually one of her best -- but read Caribbean Mystery first.
LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Nemesis by Agatha Christie features Miss Jane Marple as she embarks upon a quest that a previous acquaintance has asked her to complete. She feels compelled to do this as the request came from beyond the grave. She is supplied tickets to a coach tour of Beautiful Homes and Gardens, and having no
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real knowledge of what she is supposed to discover, off she goes.

Tension mounts slowly in this book as Miss Marple painstakingly puts the pieces together and finally realizes that she is to be the Nemesis for someone who got away with murder a number of years ago. She must study the characters around her, both on the tour and in the countryside where they stay. With her uncanny knack for sensing evil on full alert, it isn’t too long before murder is on the agenda, and Jane Marple must tread very carefully or she could very well be in great danger as well.

This was an interesting mystery that had Miss Marple more actively involved then usual. Instead of being overlooked while she observes all quietly from a corner, this time Miss Marple is front and center in the storyline as she takes control of the investigation. A well-done, entertaining mystery, that suffers a little from a slow start but the suspense builds nicely.
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LibraryThing member ianw
A bit too contrived for my taste.
LibraryThing member Fliss88
This just didn't hold my interest long enough to get into it, and these days I haven't got the reading time to waste on books that don't get me 'in' right from the start. Shame, because I've just discovered Agatha Christie's novels!
LibraryThing member bria.lynne
Perhaps my favorite Agatha Christie to date.
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
This is the 9th c hristie book i've read. It came out in 1971, just four years before Christie's death in 1975. Miss Marple is given a vague assignment by a man she had encountered in the West Indies who has died. He seeks to have his wayward son cleared of a murder he doesn't think he committed.
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Miss Marple goes on the bus tour of gardens and houses in England designated by the dead man, and when the tourt gets to a certain town she is invited to stay at the house of three sisters. There are 2 old murders and one new one and of course Miss maple solves them all. The scenario nis very contrived and everything goes like clockwork, in typical Christie fashion. I read it with interest but it does not compare with the realy great Christie novels such as And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But it was OK.
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LibraryThing member lesaneace
Another one of Christie's Miss Marple mysteries. The central plotline hinges on the idea that a sweet fluttery elderly lady is an expert in evil and an instrument of justice for the Greek goddess Nemesis. Old sins have long shadows and new victims in this classic mystery.
LibraryThing member Jiraiya
Often it is my lot to reflect on death and sadness and whatnot. Marple stories are a conductor of this mood, but never have I been affected so much as when I read Nemesis. After reading Nemesis, I logged on wiki as I wanted to know how many Marple books there are. The answer is, not many; about
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twelve or so. This book changed my allegiance. I like Marple a lot, and adored her in this book because she appears in it and is never relegated to the background.

I like Miss Marple more than Hercule Poirot. There, I've said it! It is possible I'll change my mind when reading Poirot again, but I doubt it. Poirot got more eccentric as time went on and is difficult to relate to, plus I got tired of his little grey cells and cat like eyes. Miss Marple is perhaps the only Mary Sue that I've come across who doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. I don't know in what state of mind these books are written, and I don't know who or what is A. Christie's muse...but from the finished product I feel that Christie poured her soul into parts of this story.

The mechanistic aspect of the plot is not original. For two of the essential points, the author combines two stories I've read in the past, one of them being 'The Body In The Library'. Having read these books in the past, I've been able to guess the importance of the disfigured face, the purpose of the greenhouse ruins. It's the details that I don't grasp. For example, I don't know why the former Head Mistress has never met the arch deacon for so many years. That is one thing that the murderer had no control over.

This book earned 4 well deserved stars from me. I think by the nature of these books, it's unlikely that they will get a perfect score. The interviewing of suspects, the dishing out of red herrings, in my opinion prevent me from giving Nemesis 5 stars. One can not pay attention in parts of the chapters in the middle and still get a feel of the case. So what is so different? The difference here, is that Nemesis is the only Marple, the only A. Christie book that I'll read a second time.
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LibraryThing member lesaneace
Another one of Christie's Miss Marple mysteries. The central plotline hinges on the idea that a sweet fluttery elderly lady is an expert in evil and an instrument of justice for the Greek goddess Nemesis. Old sins have long shadows and new victims in this classic mystery.
LibraryThing member riverwillow
Mr Rafiel, from 'A Caribbean Mystery' has died and has has left Miss Marple £20,000 if she agrees to undertake an investigation. Although he gives her no clues as to who or what he wants her to look into, Miss Marple agrees to undertake the task and is sent on a coach tour of English country
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houses and gardens. When one of her companions is killed, Miss Marple discovers just whose death Mr Rafiel wanted her to investigate and why. Ultimately she discovers just how destructive and terrible love can be. This is one of my favourite Miss Marple novels.
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LibraryThing member Sharonkincaid
Read them all......My favorites are the Miss Marples.......
LibraryThing member JBarringer
I've seen several film versions of this story. I am not sure whether the book is best in this case or not. The TV series versions shift some of the scenes and even bring in Miss Marple's nephew as her travelling companion, and I rather liked those changes. The book is great, walking the reader
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through the case without giving anything away too soon or springing new evidence on the reader in the conclusion to solve the case. Some of the characters in this novel espouse awfully sexist perspectives on women, which I though interesting since the sleuth is a woman and so is the killer in this book. Miss Marple seems content to let her example answer all the sexism and ageism she encounters, but clearly the author was addressing gender stereotypes and other prejudices through her characters in this novel.
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LibraryThing member charlie68
I thought it was an above average mystery, with some deep themes about love and the dark side of love.

Pages

271

ISBN

039606423X / 9780396064237

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