At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

At Bertram's Hotel

Information

Goodreads: At Bertram’s Hotel
Series: Miss Marple #11
Source: Library
Published: 1965

Official Summary

An old-fashioned London Hotel is not quite as reputable as it makes out! When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer. Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day!

Star Divider

Review

I’ve enjoyed every Agatha Christie novel I’ve read so far, but At Bertram’s Hotel is a new experience for me because it is my first Miss Marple mystery. Christie’s Poirot is a classic intelligent, perceptive detective, and Tommy and Tuppence are brave and vivacious young adventurers willing to take risks to find the information they want.  So I was intrigued to read a book where the protagonist is, in many ways, not actually the protagonist.  Miss Marple notices things and has a sharp memory, but she is not actually solving the case in At Bertram’s Hotel.  That role actually belongs to a police chief who is more from the Poirot mold, while Miss Marple’s observations are integral to his being able to solve the case.  This seemed a unique spin on Christie’s mystery structure, and I’m intrigued as to whether this is true for all the Miss Marple books.

I also found it unusual that it is not immediately clear for much of the novel what exactly the mystery is, what exactly the police—and readers—are trying to solve.  There are people at the hotel doing unusual things, but much of the book is spent with the reader attempting to figure out what it actually is they are doing and what might be the crime.  Basically, “What is wrong?” is the mystery itself, more than “Who did the wrong thing?”  I’m not sure it was my favorite set-up for a mystery, but I found it unique, and, as usual, Christie delivered an outcome I was not really expecting.

I also thought the setting and atmosphere were wondering in At Bertram’s Hotel, something a bit hit-or-miss with her novels for me.  Here, however, Christie vividly portrays a respectable hotel with impeccable service that somehow masterfully balances both the old and the new.  Guests feel as if they’re stepping back in time, while still being offered modern amenities.  I admit it, I wish I could visit this hotel.  And apparently the muffins are delicious!

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend readers start with At Bertram’s Hotel as their first Christie novel, perhaps because it seems quieter than some of the others, but it is a very strong mystery and better than many non-Christie mysteries I’ve read.  She delivers engaging hard-to-solve mysteries so consistently that it’s hard for me to imagine she would ever write a book I didn’t enjoy and admire.

4 stars Briana

11 thoughts on “At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

  1. BookerTalk says:

    Not o e I’ve read but I’m familiar with it through the tv adaptation starring Joan Hickson. It seems the book is a little different in terms of the involvement of Miss Marple.

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  2. Theresa Everton Pulyer says:

    It’s been a while since I read Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books but I actually read them in order (which is so unusual for me). It never stood out to me that Miss Marple wasn’t involved. Perhaps it was just that particular one? Great review!

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Interesting! I really want to read them to compare! I felt as is she *noticed* things in this one and was integral to solving the case, but she was not really doing any legwork; she just happened to have been in the hotel and observed some key events.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bookish Hooker says:

    Quite a bit of what Miss Marple contributes to the cases is not really detecting in the traditional sense, but more observing and then imparting that to the authorities. She’s kind of the village gossip hound and tends to connect people’s behavior in gossip she’s heard in the past to what she’s seeing at the present. I guess in way saying that at the core of any village drama people often are the same and we can learn from other’s behavior. While I like her books, I don’t think they’re as exciting as Poirot because of this.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s a really interesting way of putting it! This was the only Miss Marple book I’ve read, so I definitely wasn’t sure whether this was normal for the series or not. I do like that she is strangely observant and can put things together that maybe the professionals can’t, but I agree it’s a bit less exciting overall. I’d still read more of her books though!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anjana says:

    I love the review! You highlight why I personally enjoy Agatha Christie novels, it’s not just the whodunit but the why and all that character analysis, making it a rich atmosphere to wander in 😄 it took me a while and a while lot of growing up before I could appreciate miss Marple though 😅

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  5. ireadthatinabook says:

    I do prefer miss Marple to Poirot but she is generally hiding in the background of the story while Poirot demands to be in the centre of attention. However, Bertram’s Hotel is probably one of the less memorable ones featuring miss Marple.

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