“Are you happy? If not consult Mr Parker Pyne, 17 Richmond Street.”
Back in the early 1990’s, newly graduated and jobless, I dedicated many hours to reading Agatha Christie novels. With little money and lots of free time I whiled away many an unemployed afternoon devouring novels and scouring the library for detective stories. Since then my contact with Agatha Christie has been sporadic. However, a couple of weeks ago I was listening to an interview with Sophie Hannah the author of the latest Hercule Poirot mystery and had an urge to remind myself of the joys of Agatha Christie. Calling into my local library on the way home from work just a few minutes before closing time I had little time for considered selection, so quickly grabbed the first Agatha Christie I saw. This turned out to be a collection of short stories featuring ‘Parker Pyne’. This became my first encounter with the affable detective ‘Parker Pyne’.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from PP, but there is certainly something of the Hercule Poirot about him. He is quirky, astute and has a nose for the truth. Parker Pyne advertises his services in the Times by posing the question ‘Are you happy?’. The first six stories feature a collection of individuals either searching for an answer to this question or seeking a way to enhance their dull lives. Parker Pyne in conjunction with his secretary, a famous novelist and a renowned ‘lounge lizard’ help all of these people to find the elusive happiness.
The final six stories take place while Parker Pyne is on holiday in the middle East. Despite his insistence that he is on holiday his considerable deductive talents are required as he solves a number of slightly improbable mysteries involving various travel companions.
This is certainly not a taxing read, and Parker Pyne is not about to become my favourite detective. However it was a gentle reminder of all the things that are good about Agatha Christie novels, and I suspect I may be tempted to pick up another when I next pop into my local library.