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Despite writing detective fiction, I've noticed that Christie seems to want to at least play fair with the police, and not make them all out to be Total Idiots.

And I like the fact that the concept of karma is cropping up here... but Clithering is still a bit more laissez-faire in that sense than I'd like to see in a top police type guy! Yes, it still matters if crimes (I mean, at least if we're talking about things like murder and other "big" crimes) go unnoticed and unpunished by society! I do however like that he realizes how important innocence can be, or at least not pointing guilt at those who you're not sure are guilty!

There's not too much to say about the story itself - it's nice enough, but not my very favorite of the collection. I think partly because it seems the flower thing just muddies it further - if you have the names spelling out "Death" in the letter, why bring dahlias and flower catalogues into it at all?

Edit: Oh, and I almost forgot to add that I found it amusing that in this case, the *one* person who wasn't "hired help" in some form turns out to be the culprit. :)

Vocabulary/setting:

The Schwartze Hand - This would be The Black Hand, translated, and there is this society, but that doesn't seem to be quite the same thing. I suspect this exact society was made up or at least only loosely based on real societies, since one of the foci of the story was instrumental in breaking it up.

The Camorra - This is an Italian mafia-like organization.

Elevenses - I like this term. :) It's sort of a "second breakfast" a la Hobbits. Or more accurately, like afternoon tea, but in the morning between breakfast and lunch.

Comments

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stormfeather
Aug. 20th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's one thing that bugs me about the letter - you'd think that with a person sent there to act as an assassin specifically, they really would just need one or two code sentences for use in a letter, which could be just about anything (and totally undetectable)... one to mean like "kill him now," one to mean "we were wrong, we are not going to kill this guy, abort abort!", and maybe a "we need to give you more complex directions, meet us at some prearranged place to discuss matters" sentence even.

But yes, having capitalized letters that spell out DEATH is a bit... well. And the meticulous police force looking at that letter much not have been very meticulous!

I did get the impression though that it wasn't so much that they weren't worried about the gardener because he was a lower-class worker, but because the people he would be working for in the future/dealing with/living with wouldn't know he was even suspected for murder. So it couldn't hurt his reputation. (Although I'd think it would still be nice for him to know he wasn't under suspicion, just like for the housekeeper.) Whereas the housekeeper herself was a bit more affected, since she was more a family servant type thing, and would be continuing to work for the niece perhaps (well until it turned out that the niece was the culprit), who would know what was going on and might continue to suspect her.

And yes, it's nice that it's not ONLY Miss Marple for once that puts her finger on the problem, although she does still seem to be the one who spots it first and helps direct Mrs. Bantry's attention to the matter.
khedron
Aug. 22nd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
And I like the fact that the concept of karma is cropping up here... but Clithering is still a bit more laissez-faire in that sense than I'd like to see in a top police type guy! Yes, it still matters if crimes (I mean, at least if we're talking about things like murder and other "big" crimes) go unnoticed and unpunished by society!

Between this story and the last one, I think we have a strong implication that in this world, the justice system is there to punish the specific offender, and not to deter future would-be criminals. I don't think rehabilitation is the goal, although I guess there's no textual support either way, but there's a repeated message of "she's dead / she'll be punished enough, and we don't have to do anything further here." I'm not sure that's laissez-faire of him, just a consistent philosophical viewpoint.

I do however like that he realizes how important innocence can be, or at least not pointing guilt at those who you're not sure are guilty!

Agreed.

Elevenses: Yes, Hobbits introduced that to me too. But Hobbits are just regular English countryside folk, right?


As far as the flowers go... Well, I'm not good at British-style cryptics. There's both the extreme cleverness required, and there's also the cultural context. In this case, while I didn't figure it out, I do believe that people could. I've heard of "the language of flowers" before, and I also know how flowers can have crazy names. I once spent 3 hours at a nursery that only grew hostas. It turns out there are many, many kinds, and the people naming them have just as much of a quirky sense of humor as unix programmers. So while "Tsingtau" threw me in the letter, I could see recognizing which words named flowers, and taking the first letter of the flower name. Me, I got thrown off by wondering which capitalized letters I should be focused on, and didn't get the message.

So, it's not the cleverest code exactly, but I'll buy it.

(Having played the first couple Phoenix Wright games, I am not at all surprised that "Dahlia" means treachery!)

The class discussion continues to be interesting. I wonder how much of this was what Christie believes, and how much is what she has her intentionally old-fashioned protagonist say in order to be in character?
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