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At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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Jill Worth

This is a typical Agatha Christie mystery. Our old friend Miss Marple features – though not all that often - the plot is more about the hotel and the other guests who pass through its doors and of course there are a couple of members of the constabulary who come investigating a death. The writing is precise with no unnecessary padding; whilst the description of the period hotel makes it very easy to imagine. If you are looking for an old fashioned ‘whodunnit’ to take on a cruise with you, I can highly recommend it.

Elizabeth Banigan

I had never read an Agatha Christie thriller before though I have seen TV adaptions with Miss Marple. Her novels are considered ‘classics’ in the detective genre but reading At Bertram’s Hotel was like watching an old horror film; I know it was considered great in its day but it feels very ‘dated' to me. Reading it was more like an exercise in nostalgia. It would have been ideal to read it on a rainy day by a roaring fire with hot tea and buttered muffins, a pleasant way to remember England as it was. It certainly wasn’t a page-turner and I’m not planning to read any more Agatha Christie novels. Knowing Miss Marple only from TV adaptations, I was surprised by how she appeared in the novel. I don’t know whether this was Miss Marple’s first literary outing or not but I didn’t expect her to be so interested in buying sensible household linens. Miss Marple’s detecting seemed to be limited to piecing together bits that she saw or overheard but the real detective seemed to be a Chief Inspector Davy (aka “Father”). There were a couple of simple plots revolving around the dashing Bess Sedgwick, upper class ‘maverick’ who had also checked into Bertram’s Hotel. Bertram’s Hotel was an establishment that contrived to preserve an atmosphere of “ye good old days” and therefore was popular with old CoE clergy, down at heel aristocrats and the upper middle class. This atmosphere also attracted rich American tourists who were simply thrilled by it all. Bertram’s Hotel was a sham and a front for a criminal gang. As far as I am concerned, that feeling that Bertram’s Hotel is phoney extends to the whole novel. Did such an England still exist when Agatha Christie was writing or was it a wander down ‘golden memories’ lane even back then? The novel is well written and would be enjoyed by anyone who likes a nostalgic classic thriller.

Julia Passmore

Although I have seen many of the plays and films made of the Agatha Christie books, this is the first Agatha Christie book I have actually read. It held me enthralled from page 1. One of the stories involving Miss Marple, it starts gently setting the scene for an idyllic hotel in the heart of London. The book is set in 1955 but the hotel makes everyone feel they are back in 1939 when everything was more dignified, unostentatious and expensive. Everyone appears so innocent but looks are deceptive! There are several strands to the story and you soon become immersed in the intrigue of cases being dealt with by Scotland Yard, interspersed with whimsy from Miss Marple, who spends her time studying those around her. There are lots of twists and turns but Miss Marple wins the day. I shall certainly be looking for further Agatha Christie books to read in future

Angie Adam

I have not read an Agatha Christie book for many years and was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading At Bertram's Hotel. The majority of the story is set in very respectable, dignifiedly old fashioned small Bertram's Hotel in the centre of London. The novel takes time to set the scene and to introduce the main characters which include Miss Marple who is staying at Bertram's Hotel for a brief holiday. Both Miss Marple and a senior police officer who is investigating a train robbery begin to suspect that the hotel is too good to be true. The novel is well constructed and written but I did feel that there were a few too many coincidences when Miss Marple just happened to see or overhear things which ultimately helped the police to solve the crime. Thank you for sending me a book to review as part of the Viking Book Club.

Gillian Came

I have read quite a few Agatha Christie books, but not this one. So I was really pleased to be sent it. Jane Marple is on holiday at Bertram's Hotel in London. It has not changed at all since her last visit 50 years ago. Very respectable and perhaps "too good to be true". This story is about the comings and goings of the staff and the clients. An Inspector from Scotland Yard is also at the hotel investigating connections to various crimes. Jane observes and hears everything in and around the hotel. A very forgetful member of the clergy goes missing and towards the end of the book there is a murder. Jane and the Inspector help each other to find out what is going on and to piece all the different puzzles together. There are several stories running through the book bringing out all the different characters. Jane just happens to be around in the background in most of them. This is an easy read, but slightly confusing with all the different stories because you are not quite sure where it is going. This story is not really about murder, it is about Bertram's Hotel and why it is “too good to be true".

Kathy Lewis

Thank you for sending me a copy of the above book by Agatha Christie. Here is my review below. Very good read and keep my attention throughout, encouraging me to keep on reading to find out what happened next. I didn’t manage to guess who the culprit was before it was revealed in the story. Quite a short book, so ideal for a river cruise giving the reader sufficient time to borrow the book from the library on the boat and finish the story before the end of the cruise.