Parker Pyne is not a detective at all. He’s a former civil servant who understands human nature. His business is all about offering “happiness” to his clients. And, he guarantees results to his clients or he’ll give them their money back. Here’s a description of Mr. Parker Pyne given by one of his happy (and enthusiastic) clients:
”He’s the one and only original wizard . . . the marvel of the century — all your troubles smoothed out while you wait! . . . There’s just nothing he can’t do. Husbands and wives flying at each other’s throats and he brings ‘em together — if you’ve lost interest in life he gives you the most thrilling adventures. As I say, the man’s just a wizard!”
In spite of that over-the-top description, Mr. Pyne is really a quiet, confident man. As another client said, “There is just something reassuring about Mr. Pyne . . . He had an aura of dependability.” In other words, people trusted Mr. Parker Pyne. (The stories consistently refer to him using his full name and title.)
I’d love to tell you about all fourteen short stories, but in the interest of space, I’ll share just a few:
- The Case of the Discontented Husband: A middle-aged man is depressed because he feels his life is dull. Mr. Parker Pyne arranges for him to deliver some undercover messages which leads to some mind-blowing adventures.
- The Case of the Rich Woman: Mr. Pyne arranges this very clever identity swap to help a rich woman experience a life with very little money but loads of happiness.
- Death On the Nile: Here Mr. Pyne actually does solve a murder mystery aboard a ship on the Nile River. (Not related to the novel by the same name.)
- Problem at Pollensa Bay: This was a fun and clever story about a mother and son. Mr. Pyne helps change the mother’s attitude toward a young woman her son wanted to marry.
Each one of the stories was first published in magazine form in the US and then Britain during the early 1930s. I downloaded them onto my kindle and they were just right for quick reads. The stories were so different from Ms. Christie’s other works that it truly added to my admiration for her work.
This is book number 32 in my project to read all of Agatha Christie’s books in publication order. To see my list of all the books I’ve read, go here. For more information on the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, hit the button below.