Parker Pyne Investigates

This is another book that I listened to through Hoopla and was narrated by Hugh Fraser. It is also a series of short stories by Agatha Christie staring Mr. Parker Pyne. And again, these books are a bit different from her more popular books. I had previously read one of the stories in a stand alone ebook, and I was a bit confused about the characters and setting and WHO was Parker Pyne. Reading the full book helped resolve that confusion.

Mr. Pyne is a retired civil servant, who has opened a private firm that aims to cure unhappiness and advertises in the personal column:

“Are you happy? If not consult Mr Parker Pyne, 17 Richmond Street.”

Many people initially ignore the advertisement, but then later come to him for help with their problems. He has the theory that there are five main types of unhappiness and that each can be logically resolved. A couple stories include Ariadne Oliver, crime novelist in a couple Poirot novels, as well as Miss Lemon, who also works as Poirot’s secretary.

He’s a bit unorthodox and presents himself as a bit clumsy and inept, but I enjoyed hearing the creative ways that situations were resolved, and the individuals satisfied with his work. As with the book about Mr. Quin, I do think the stories were so much better because they were narrated by Hugh Fraser.

On a slightly different note, I listened to several BBC dramatizations of these stories. They are modernized (e.g. references to the Iraq war or technology that didn’t exist during Ms. Christie’s time) and, of course, dramatized. Some I enjoyed more than others, but overall they were a bit disappointing. Part of the reason that I like Agatha Christie’s books is the time and place in which they are set. I don’t want a modern day twist to them. However, that didn’t make them terrible, just not as enjoyable. I’ll look for those stories in the short story collections rather than listening to the dramatizations.

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