The Clocks

Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
I have just Finished It and I have loved re-reading it, It reminded me why it is in my top 3 but there is one bit which now I am puzzled about SPOILER ALERT The Girl who has a broken shoe attends the Inquest and knows there is something wrong with the Female Villain's Testimony but she goes with the Female Villain to Phone the Police Station, Why if she has a feeling something about the Testimony is wrong? I know she is said to be not very clever but surely she is not that stupid is she? Anyway I love the Book, I can't understand why it is Underrated it has everything you could possibly want.
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Comments

  • MichielMichiel Netherlands Investigator
    edited July 2014
    I think she just thinks there has been an honest mistake, without having any idea of who the murderer is.

    And yes, this one does seem a little underrated. I sure love it. It has romance, a spy angle and comic relief, plus that expose about detective fiction. It is also pretty creepy somehow.

    On the other hand, I don't really like the ending. I prefer it when Poirot calls everybody into a room and then puts forth his view. In this novel, it just fizzles out a bit.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭

    Although Poirot does sometimes get Suspects together, isn't that more in the Adaptations? If I am wrong I am sorry but I actually agree with you, I love it when The Suspects are all brought together.

  • CaptainHastingsCaptainHastings Illinois, United States Investigator
    I just finished listening to The Clocks on CD, and I have to say I really did not like it.  This Colin Lamb character was a real bore an just overall unconvincing.  I think because Christie was so fed up with her bombastic creation, Hercule Poirot, for this 1963 novel she decided to come up with a way to provide a Poirot mystery while having as little Poirot as possible.  Hence the whole motif where Lamb challenges Poirot to prove that he can unravel a mystery from his armchair through careful analysis of the facts.  So we have Inspector Hardcastle (admittedly a strong and engaging personality) and Colin Lamb doing all of the spade work with Poirot in really three scenes supposedly synthesizing all of the facts and clues.

    I disliked Colin Lamb for a number of reasons.  Everyone says he's in love with this Sheila Webb.  He's loathe to admit it himself, but after maybe two lunch dates he proposes marriage to this veritable stranger.  Webb's entire interaction with Lamb was based upon fear and her clinging to the nearest man who seems willing to help her.  There was no hint - express or implied - that she even wanted to shag this Colin Lamb, let alone share the rest of her life in holy wedlock with him.  But nonetheless, by the end of the book they're either married or engaged. 

    And when would it be proper for a complete stranger to see a 10 year old girl in a highrise apartment, skirt the attention of the desk attendant, knock on the door of this apartment, ask the au pair to speak to the minor alone in the minor's room on the false claim that the minor girl dropped a fruit knife on the ground below.  Oh, and what's more, the girl is defenseless in a leg cast.  I know 1963 was perhaps a less paranoid time than say the 1980's or today, but come on, what parent or guardian would ever allow a complete stranger do such a thing.  How about, "Oh, my employer's daughter accidentally dropped this fruit knife out the window?  No, you'd best not come in.  I'll take it through this opening in the door.  No, I will not unlatch the chain.  Thank you for bringing back our fruit knife.  So kind of you.  Good day."

    It just struck me as woefully untrue that an intelligence worker like this Lamb would think such a plan would work, and I don't know what Christie was thinking in suggesting such a thing would happen as ordinarily as catching a bus.

    I also did not understand the significance of all of the clocks.  Wouldn't one clock (the one marked 'Rosemary') be enough to implicate Webb?  We are given no information ahead of time that an unpublished Gary Gregson manuscript contained the plot of inserting multiple clocks at a crime scene.  So even if one remembers that Miss Martingale at one time worked for this author, how are we to know about the clocks?  Poirot reveals this in the near final scene.  This was not playing fair with the reader!

    Additionally, the subplot surrounding Colin Lamb's search of the crescents to ferret out a spy/communist administration was wholly unfair.  How would the reader have any clue to the fact that poor, old, blind Miss Pedmarsh was a commie spy passing secret information through Braille books?  That came out of nowhere, and it seemed like a mere device to show Lamb's humanitarian spirit at giving Pedmarsh a head start.  I think Christie though it irresistible to pen the line, " ... because I have a feeling that very shortly you're going to be my mother-in-law."

    It was all very hokey and contrived.
  • mike1410mike1410 Franklin, New Zealand Investigator
    edited August 2014
    To my mind, one of the things that makes the post 1960 books such a mixed bag compared to her earlier work is the fact that by the late 1950's the world was such a very different place to that which Agatha had lived most of her life in, and she was no longer able to write about the things she knew about.

    The days of small parochial village life, the country house weekend gatherings and enforced small group settings that had provided the setting for so many of her stories were now well and truly over. Imagine the reception she would have received if books such as 'The Secret of Chimneys' or 'The Murder At The Vicarage' had been written and first published in 1960. Or if she had tried to write 'Death In The Clouds' set aboard a DC8! I think Agatha realised that if she wanted to continue to be a working author then she needed to move with times in her books, but sadly she was not always successful in this. I always wonder how much of her desire to work was her own industriousness, and how much her publishers encouragement.

    To me, the best of the post 1960's books work because to an extent they rely on old school settings; The Mirror Cracked (1962, country house setting for a village fete with the addition of a movie star), A Caribbean Mystery (1964, small select gathering this time the exclusiveness provided by exotic foreign location), Hallowe'en Party (1969, but could so easily have been set 20 years earlier with no detriment to the story) and Nemesis (1971, small group forced together this time on a coach tour rather than a Nile steamer or a trans-continental express train). Whilst the worst show Agatha venturing into a world completely unknown to her, such as 'Passenger To Frankfurt' (1970, Nazi resurrection) and Destination Unknown (1955, the start of the decline, communism).

    I don't really dislike The Clocks. I think if AC had simplified the story a little and removed the communist spies and MI5 angle it would have worked better. You have all the ingredients; the young hero, the illegitimate child brought up by a family member, a murder committed solely for money with an unusual hiding place for the body, a character who knows something  but doesn't realise the importance of what they know and a love story. Classic Agatha!. Trouble is, by 1963 whilst I think it was perfectly feasible for many of her readers to believe that Colin Lamb was interested in helping Sheila Webb purely because he fancied her and thought it may lead somewhere (ie the bedroom) that idea was perhaps too shocking for AC to consider writing about....... and so there had to be the more formal and Victorian moral respectability of the "love at first sight determined to marry her" scenario to explain his interest. 

    Conversely, with regards to the ITV Poirot adaptations, I think that both this and the adaptation of Third Girl (1966) in particular suffered greatly from being moved back into a 1930's setting.......they are stories of their time and just don't work being moved into a different era. In exactly the same way that the early Tommy & Tuppence stories are so reflective of the time they are set in. I shudder to think what a mess the BBC are going to make of their forthcoming adaptation of Partners in Crime by apparently moving it forward 30 years to the 1950's.
    "One does not recognise the really important moments in one's life until it's too late"  Agatha Christie
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭

    I LOVE The Clocks, I think it is a really Good Book, A great Caper as Far as Books with Poirot is a Caper, I loved the fact that Ariadne is mentioned and Colin Knows her and the fact That that even though Colin's Dad isn't specifically named I feel that he must be a Christie Recurring Character which makes the book Oh So much more fun for me, I like the plot as well, I agree with Captain Hastings though there was no way of knowing that Miss Pebmarsh was a Commie, Yes one Clock would have been enough to implicate Sheila but all the Clocks were positioned so that Miss Martindale could use the unused Manuscript from Gary Gregson but I admit we are given no hint before hand about the manuscript but we are told that Gary Gregson is a Thriller Writer who was not only a client of Miss Martindale who set up the bureau with his Money so It doesn't take too much of a leap to assume that one of the Clients is going to be important later on as that is the way Agatha Christie Writes, When It comes to Colin's Feelings For Sheila it is obvious because he is Honing in on Her that he wants to "Shag" her and she probably just thinks, "OK, I don't know what else to do with my Life so I might as well Hitch my Caravan to Your Car" I have known Women like that, The Au Paor was Harrassed and worried about Cooking which was not apparently her strong Point and after all England wasn't her native Country so she probably felt like a nervous guest and she was near enough to hear the Girls Screams but I feel for this you are perhaps Judging Todays Standards with 1963 standards Agatha Christie didn't write about Paedophiles, the only Children Killed in The Christie Cannon are Killed for other Reasons not sexual ones You have to allow for a bit of Unbelievability to move the book along. I finished listening to The Audio Cassette the other day and really enjoyed it, I think Hugh Fraser did a wonderful Job, I didn't like The Television Adaptation though, It made Hardcastle a weaker Character for me anyway and the other Changes were absurd.

    I don't know if I have already mentined it but there are Connections with Bob Larby's As Time Goes By, Do you think he was a fan of the Book, Judy Dench's Character Owned a Type Writing Agency, Geoffrey Palmer's Character's surname is Hardcastle, and his Father Rock's real first name is Richard, Coincidence?

  • CaptainHastingsCaptainHastings Illinois, United States Investigator
    Great reply, Tommy.  I saw bits and pieces of one episode of As Time Goes By so I know which series you're talking about, but I never watched enough of it to draw those connections.  I'm sure you're quite right though - especially if the writer/creator stated he like The Clocks.

    I do recall in By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968) Christie alludes to child killings which may have been the result of depraved sexuality.  You're right, it turns out the murderer killed those children for different reasons.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
    Thank you Captain Hastings, The Clocks has been Criticized before and It is a Favourite of mine, I don't know if The Late Great Bob Larby did state he was a Fan of The Clocks but the bits I stated did make me think, perhaps they made somebody at ITV think the same which is why Geoffrey Palmer was in the Adaptation, If you like Gentle Comedy, If it is on again watch As Time Goes By it is Great, as soon as The Drama Channel sopped showing it they started again, Philip Bretherton who was in The Hickson Version of At Bertram's  Hotel was in it and Jenny Funnel who played a Nurse in Peril At End House and Tim Wylton were also in As Time Goes By. 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭

    SPOILER ALERT!!!

    I think somebody asked how Miss Martindale knew The Clock with "Rosemary" on it was Sheila's, I thought Poirot said that although he had no proof, Miss Martindale must have seen Sheila with The Clock or Known she hadn't taken it home with her.  

  • TeresaTeresa Epping Fan
    edited September 2017
    Our book group read "The Clocks" this month.  There was some confusion as how Sheila ended up going to the house and being the daughter of the blind woman.  Was this explained, or was it an unexplained coincidence?  Our book group was mixed on the book because of the ending.  I enjoyed it myself because of the references to the other authors and the chapters about the cat lady and the two boys..   
    Thanks.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
    She went because the Typewriting bureau was phoned up, I think the Blind woman wanted to 'see' what Sheila was like, "The Clocks" is one of my favourite Books, It has everything, It is a bit of a Caper, It has a Picture Puzzle, It is A Murder Mystery, Great Characters and reminds me so much of my Joint-Favourite Sit-com
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