jml's notebook

Review: By the Pricking of my Thumbs

Content warning: I talk about dementia without really knowing what I'm talking about.

An Agatha Christie novel featuring Tommy & Tuppence. Would not recommend.

There are quite a few fun moments, but overall it feels like a bit of a mess. It doesn't just rely on coincidences to get the plot started, but also to keep it moving.

It's not clear that anyone does any actual sleuthing, and when the mystery is resolved, you're still not sure why it matters

There's a possible interesting reading that I'm not willing to develop fully, due to lack of expertise, but will sketch out here.

Senility and dementia are themes that run through the book, and "simplicity" and madness act as sorts of foils. It could be that the confusing plot, the overwhelming levels of details and clues (lampshaded in the book), and the seemingly arbitrary gaps in the narrative are meant to impress upon the reader what it's like to not trust your own thread of consciousness.

When you get to the end, you discover everything has been resolved but not really how or why. Everyone around you looks happy and content though, so maybe it's best if you just play along with them to preserve some dignity.

I have no personal experience of dementia, but know through others that it can be deeply troubling for both the sufferer and their loved ones. My apologies if the above is insensitive.