“By the Pricking of My Thumbs” is a fast read, and a fun one!
Tommy and Tuppence have an elderly aunt who is quite feisty and for some reason, doesn’t like Tuppence. Tuppence takes it all in stride and goes along with Tommy anyway to visit feisty ol’ Aunt Ada in the Sunny Ridge nursing home. However, when they arrive, Aunt Ada does not miss an opportunity to show her rudeness and disapproval of Tuppence, and pretty much just throws her out of the room.
“Who’s this woman?” She (Aunt Ada) eyed Mrs. Beresford with an air of distate.
“I’m Prudence,” said Mrs. Beresford. “Your niece, Prudence.”
“What a ridiculous name,” said Aunt Ada. “Sounds like a parlormaid.”
… “I brought you a few roses,” said Tuppence.
“I don’t care for flowers in a sick room. Use up all the oxygen.”
“I’ll put them in a vase for you,” said Miss Packard.
“You won’t do anything of the kind. You ought to have learnt by now that I know my own mind… You go away,” added Aunt Ada as a kind of postcript, waving her hand towards Tuppence who was hesitating in the doorway.
Tuppence retired immediately.”
So Tuppence, not to be deterred and willing to make allowances for Aunt Ada’s age and irascibility, decides to entertain herself while waiting for Tommy. In typical Tuppence fashion, she keeps her ears and eyes open and discovers a few interesting facts at Sunny Ridge.
When Aunt Ada passes, a picture that Tuppence is drawn to ends up in their hands. Where HAS Tuppence seen the house in the picture before? the clues begin to pile up and Tuppence’s familiarly inquisitive nature to take hold. One thing leads to another, and, as you might guess, Tuppence finds herself in danger, feeds her curiosity and, by following leads in the end, solves more than one mystery that is years old.
“On Monday morning, Albert, the domestic mainstay of the Beresfords’ life for many long years, ever since he had been roped into anticriminal activities by them as a carroty-haired lift boy, deposited the tray of early morning tea on the table between the two beds, pulled back the curtains, announced that it was a fine day, and removed his now portly form from the room.
Tuppence yawned, sat up, rubbed her eyes, poured out a cup of tea, dropped a slice of lemon in it, and remarked that it seemed a nice day, but you never knew.
Tommy turned over and groaned.
“Wakeup,” said Tuppence, “Remember you’re going places today.”
“Oh Lord,” said Tommy. So I am.”
He too, sat up and helped himself to tea.He looked with appreciation at the picture over the mantelpiece.
“I must say Tuppence, your picture looks very nice.”
One cannot help but wonder if the criminal ring will be tracked down, if Tuppence will wakeup and be able to recover from her stint in hospital, and if Albert,their servant,will EVER stop burning the chicken (or learn it is really not good manners to listen in on the telephone extension…)
Will Tuppence find the house in the picture and solve the mystery?
Agatha Christie keeps you guessing until the end.