ARE YOU HAPPY? IF NOT, CONSULT MR PARKER PYNE
Thus reads the advertisement in the personal column of the morning paper. This slim collection of twelve short stories was completely new to me. Some of the later stories follow the expected Agatha Christie detective format – client arrives with mystery to be solved, famous detective finds the solution – while in others, such as in the opening "Case of the Middle-Aged Wife", Mr Parker Pyne offers to provide changes for the better. On payment of an advance fee, fantasy may become reality, and a discontented wife may find romance, or a retired major, adventure, while an apparently much-distressed young lady just may meet her come-uppance, since solutions are never entirely straightforward.
Mr Parker Pyne has a clear-sighted understanding of human nature and, even when the reader fears he may finally have been wrong-footed, psychology will prevail. However, the mild-mannered philanthropist lacks the quirkiness of Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, or the engaging wit of some of Christie's other characters, and is, as a consequence, less memorable, which no doubt explains why these stories are less familiar. Christie aficionados, though, will recognise the efficient Miss Lemon, who also worked for Poirot.
This was another read for the Anything Agatha Challenge – I may have only managed to read three books, but it's been great fun, so I shan't be consulting Mr Parker Pyne myself. Thank you, Joy!