Book Of The Month Parker Pyne Investigates

Book of the Month

Book of the Month: Parker Pyne Investigates

1st February 2018

Equally adept at putting together the fragments of a murder mystery or the pieces of a broken heart, Mr Parker Pyne is possibly the world’s most unconventional private investigator. Armed with just an intuitive knowledge of human nature, he is an Englishman abroad, travelling the globe to solve and undo crime and misdemeanour. Parker Pyne Investigates is a collection of fourteen tantalising cases for the retired government employee turned private investigator, who solves the personal cases that are outside Scotland Yard's jurisdiction.

Meet Parker Pyne, self-proclaimed ‘heart specialist’ and undoubtedly one of Agatha Christie’s most unusual yet charming characters. Parker Pyne appears in fourteen of Christie’s short stories, currently all published in short story collection Parker Pyne Investigates. The collection was first published in 1934. featuring the first twelve stories, with Problem at Pollensa Bay and The Regatta Mystery added later.

Christie’s introduction of Parker Pyne describes the mere sight of him as bringing ‘a feeling of reassurance.’ His physical appearance is described as ‘large, not to say fat; he had a bald head of noble proportions, strong glasses, and little twinkling eyes.’ The retired civil servant uses his gained statistics knowledge to cure unhappiness. After renting a small office in London, he puts an advert is The Times that reads, ‘Are you happy? If not, consult Mr Parker Pyne.’ As people start replying to the advert, Parker Pyne sets about curing their unhappiness, in Christie’s most unconventional manner.

Parker Pyne hires an assistant, Miss Felicity Lemon, who later goes on to be Hercule Poirot’s secretary. Another of Christie’s characters that was first introduced in this collection is Hercule Poirot’s friend and mystery writer, Ariadne Oliver, who appears as one of Pyne’s unorthodox assistants.

The first six cases in the short story collection are people responding to The Times advertisement, many of which focus on romance at the core. The next eight follow Parker Pyne on holiday where the ‘heart specialist’ is reluctant to accept new cases, however finds himself offering advice when strange things happen. In these stories Parker Pyne travels to exotic locations, which were earlier explored by Agatha Christie herself, including Shiraz, Petra and Egypt.

Listen to a 20 minute audio excerpt from Parker Pyne Investigates.