REVIEW: The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie

Series: Mr. Satterthwaite/Mr. Quin

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: quick reads, classic mystery, short stories, classic whodunnit puzzles, supernatural elements

Quick Review: A collection of simple puzzles solved by Mr. Satterthwaite guided by the mysterious Mr. Quin – well worth a read for a suspenseful, emotional, and uniquely supernatural element overlaid on classic Christie puzzles.

***

A series of short cases solved by observer of human nature Mr. Satterthwaite, with some nudges in the right direction by Mr. Harley Quin – a mysterious man that seems to appear when drama is about to unfold.

THE MYSTERIOUS MR. QUIN is (I believe) the largest collection of Mr. Satterthwaite/Mr. Quin mysteries that is currently available as a collection. Mr. Satterthwaite is one of life’s observers, except in those brief and thrilling moments where Mr. Quin appears. In those cases, Mr. Satterthwaite becomes part of the drama unfolding around him, speaking his lines where necessary and playing the part of the detective to untangle the situation.

It’s a very interesting collection of puzzles; some involve murder, but some also involve theft, lovers’ quarrels and more. The mysteries themselves are fairly standard Christie fare – if you are familiar with other works by Agatha Christie, you should be able to quickly work through the red herrings, substitutions, etc. to discern what is really happening in each story. The common thread is that, at moments when Mr. Satterthwaite is about to witness an important event, Mr. Quin appears and causes Mr. Satterthwaite to see things in a way that makes him an integral part of the drama that is unfolding.

Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Quin are fascinating characters, and they contribute greatly to the enjoyment of the stories. Mr. Satterthwaite is an interesting old bachelor who people tend to confide in; his occasional frustration with being on the sidelines of life is alleviated by his chances to take part in ongoing drama afforded by Mr. Quin. Mr. Quin himself remains mysterious throughout; almost nothing is known about him other than the fact that he is tall and dark, and occasionally appears to be dressed in motley.

In fact, Mr. Quin gives these stories their hint of a supernatural angle that is somewhat different from the hard logic of the standard Christie story, and this is part of what makes me want to recommend it further. Mr. Quin is arguably some version of Harlequin; the Maidens of Murder had a great discussion about what he truly represents. I would suggest that he is some sort of servant of Death, playing havoc by making sure deaths are “just”. The fact that he disappears and appears suddenly and the amount of mystery surrounding his character does point strongly to the fact that he is not of the mortal world.

I would highly recommend THE MYSTERIOUS MR. QUIN as a light read. While the mysteries are clever (but predictable if you are a Christie fan), the different characters and supernatural element bring something fresh to Christie’s usual style.

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