On the surface, it was just a sordid little crime. An elderly cleaning woman, Mrs. McGinty, apparently managed to save up a little bit of money. Someone bashed her over the head and stole the money. All the evidence pointed to her hapless lodger, who was duly arrested, tried, and convicted of the murder. By rights, that should have been the end of the story - not the beginning.
But it is, indeed, just the beginning of Agatha Christie's 1952 novel, "Mrs. McGinty's Dead." It's the end of the "official" case, but the person in charge of that case, Superintendent Spence, isn't convinced that he has arrested the right man. Something just doesn't seem right. And so he turns to a friend for help. That friend is Hercule Poirot. And when Poirot investigates the case, he finds himself agreeing with Superintendent Spence: there is decidedly more to this case than a simple murder-with-robbery. And so...as the time ticks down towards the convicted lodger's date with the hangman...Poirot races to find out the truth of what really happened to Mrs. McGinty.
"Mrs. McGinty's Dead" is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the complete review by clicking here. "Mrs. McGinty's Dead" is one of Christie's best, with plenty of misdirection and lots of interesting and surprising twists. The book is helped by the presence of another wonderful character, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, who - not unlike another female mystery writer who might come to mind - has written a successful series of mysteries featuring an elderly, foreign-born detective. Mrs. Oliver is trying to collaborate with a local playwright who is turning her book into a play - changing everything she has written as he does so, a problem undoubtedly quite familiar to Mrs. Oliver's creator. She's a delightful character, who appears in several Poirot books, and she plays quite a significant role in this one.
"Mrs. McGinty's Dead" surely ranks among Christie's finest plots, and it is populated with interesting characters. The closing confrontation and explanation staged by Poirot works extremely well. As with most of Christie's other books, "Mrs. McGinty's Dead" is in print and readily available, and it's also been published in electronic editions. If you enjoy Agatha Christie, you'll certainly enjoy this one.