The Mystery of the Orange Scarf

Agatha Christie was one of the first grown-up authors I read.   I believe I discovered her in my junior high school library and went on to read a whole bunch of her stuff.   Nowhere near all of it.   I got tired of it before finishing.   20 or 30 of them though.  And one thing I remembered from then until I started reading her again about a year and half ago was an orange scarf.   In one book there was a woman in an orange scarf.   I thought it was The Body in the Library, but it wasn’t.   It turns out it was There is a Tide…   This is the only thing I remembered about the story.   Why?   I have no idea.   What a stupid thing to remember.   The brain is sure a funny old thing.

The story takes place shortly after WWII.  A family called Cloade has been done out of their inheritance by a whirlwind wedding followed rapidly by a doodlebug which took out everyone in the house except the wife and her brother.   The Cloades had never needed to live within their means and now are quite incapable of doing so.   The widow is a scared mouse of a girl who will only listen to her brother who has no sympathy for the Cloades.   Enter a strange man who claims the first husband of Mrs. Cloade didn’t die in Africa after all, but is still alive, followed by his demise.   

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It is a good mystery as the circumstances clear the only people who have a motive for the killing the question of what’s really going on becomes more interesting.   There’s also romance although Christie’s romances are rather cheesy and old fashioned – manly men stopping independent young women from continuing to be independent.   Considering she kept her career after her second marriage, I don’t think much of that, but it’s a small price for her mystery plots which almost always leave me kicking myself, because I’ll pick up on some of the clues, but still not work out the plot.

And it seems, I can’t stop reading Dame Agatha.   Although Dorothy L. Sayers is also on the list, but she only wrote about 20.   Lord Peter is a hoot.   Have to say I think he’s much better written as the seemingly silly, even foppish nobleman who is really extremely sharp and solves murders than Allingham’s Campion.  Wimsey goes on blathering away, but he knows his onions.

This qualifies as a Cozy Mystery and should fit somewhere on the Bingo board, but I’ll pick later.  Almost every one of Christie’s counts as a mystery published under multiple titles.   God knows why, but it seems like the American publishers couldn’t or wouldn’t accept a British title.  It was also published as Taken at the Flood.   

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