AKA Easy to Kill
Our story begins with Luke Fitzwilliam, who finds himself in a train on his way to London, sharing a carriage with a garrulous elderly lady named Miss Fullerton. Miss Fullerton, through the course of their travels, confides in Luke that she is on her way to Scotland Yard. She believes that someone has killed several people in her village. More, Miss Fullerton knows who the next victim is going to be. Luke, of course, writes off Miss Fullerton and rambling – “Just a little bit batty? No, I don’t think so. A vivid imagination, that’s all. Hope they let her down lightly. Rather an old dear.”
However, while perusing the newspaper the next day, Luke is startled to find out that Miss Fullerton never made it to Scotland Yard at all: she was hit by a car and killed. While struck with the coincidence, Luke is still willing to chalk up her death as one of life’s sad tragedies… until he reads of another death a week later: the man Miss Fullerton told him would be the killer’s next victim.
Still halfway convinced that he is chasing a mare’s nest, Luke nonetheless travels down to the village to try and see if there is any truth to Miss Fullerton’s claims – and if there really is a murderer on the loose, who could he be? *cue dramatic music*
All in all, Murder is Easy is a solid read. The premise is excellent, Luke is quite likable, and it is one of those mysteries where we know virtually everything that Luke does, so (theoretically) the reader can also determine the killer. Christie’s red herrings are fairly solid, although I had read this book somewhere in the murky past, so I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was, not because I’m particularly clever, but because it stayed with me from that earlier reading.
However, there are definitely parts of the book that drag, especially the multiple occasions where we are treated to Luke’s lengthy musings on his list of suspects, as he goes through each one individually, stating pros and cons to the likelihood of that person being the murderer. This would have been alright maybe once, but several times grew rather uninteresting. It also felt like a rather heavy-handed attempt to force the reader to keep their focus narrow, rather than accepting the possibility that the murderer is someone not on Luke’s list at all.
The love story felt completely contrived and also somewhat unnecessary, so that was a bit weird. And, in the end, while the killer definitely seemed plausible, the killer’s motives felt … odd.
Still, Murder is Easy was a good read, with plenty of that creepy realization that murderers don’t always exist in the form we expect them to… they could be the happy little neighbor right next door…