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by Agatha Christie
HarperCollins, January 2007
Unabridged audiobook pages
16.99 GBP
ISBN: 0007213220

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Part of the unabridged reissues of the Christie books in audio format, BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS is a pure classic. While visiting her husband’s aunt in a nursing home, Tuppence Beresford meets Mrs Lancaster, a sweet, addled, little old lady. When the aunt dies, leaving the Beresfords in possession of a painting formerly owned by Lancaster, Tuppence insists on offering it back – and is distressed to learn that the woman has been removed from the home, much against her will, by distant relatives.

Convinced that there is something untoward afoot, Tuppence starts investigating both Mrs Lancaster’s background and the home in the painting. Had it been only senility that had the residents of the nursing home talking about poisoned soup and illegitimate babies buried behind fireplaces? Or were ancient crimes coming out at last?

BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS is exactly the sort of tightly plotted puzzle that Christie is rightfully famous for. It's a little bit dated, but intricate as clockwork. If I have any complaint at all, it is in Hugh Fraser’s reading. He pronounces most words clearly and goes full out to create unique voices for the incidental characters. Unfortunately, this makes his flaws stand out.

Although he proves his range with the supporting cast, he doesn’t make much of a vocal distinction between the words of Tuppence or her husband Tommy. He also has a bad habit of swallowing the syllables in short words. This isn’t a problem when he’s turning “said” into “seh,” but when both “he” and “she” become a genderless “ee,” and there’s no difference between Tommy or Tuppence talking, it can occasionally be hard to visualize who is speaking. But these are not deal-breakers. On the whole his voice is distinct; I could certainly distinguish the plot over engine noise, so I would not hesitate to recommend these CDs to anyone who might be a little hard of hearing.

This is a good CD for Christie fans, audiobook fans, and anyone who likes a good, complex cold case mystery.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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