By the Pricking of My Thumbs (novel)

By the Pricking of My Thumbs (novel)

infobox Book |
name = By the Pricking of My Thumbs
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition
author = Agatha Christie
cover_artist = Kenneth Farnhill
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Crime novel
publisher = Collins Crime Club
release_date = November 1968
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages = 256 pp (first edition, hardcover)
isbn = NA
preceded_by = Endless Night
followed_by = Hallowe'en Party

"By The Pricking of My Thumbs" is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1968Chris Peers, Ralph Spurrier and Jamie Sturgeon. "Collins Crime Club – A checklist of First Editions". Dragonby Press (Second Edition) March 1999 (Page 15)] and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year [John Cooper and B.A. Pyke. "Detective Fiction - the collector's guide": Second Edition (Pages 82 and 87) Scholar Press. 1994. ISBN 0-85967-991-8] [ American Tribute to Agatha Christie] ] . The UK edition retailed at twenty-one shillings (21/-) and the US edition at $4.95. It features her detectives Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.

Youthful in two Christie books written in the 1920s, middle-aged in a World-War II spy novel, Tommy and Tuppence were unusual in that they aged according to real time, unlike Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, whose age remained more or less the same from their first novels in the 1920s, to their last novels in the 1970s.

Plot introduction

Now in their '60s, aging detectives Tommy and Tuppence visit Tommy's Aunt Ada in her nursing home, where Tuppence has a strange encounter with the elderly Mrs. Lancaster who talks about 'your poor child', and 'something behind the fireplace'. When Aunt Ada leaves the couple a painting featuring a familiar house, the couple become involved in a dangerous mission that suggests Mrs. Lancaster was not quite so crazy after all.

Explanation of the novel's title

The title of the book comes from Act 4, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth".

:2nd Witch::By the pricking of my thumbs,:Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking] :Open locks,:Whoever knocks!

Literary significance and reception

Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox) in "The Guardian"'s issue of December 13, 1968 admitted that, "Tommy and Tuppence Beresford were never my favourite Agatha Christie characters, but apparently they are other people's and in response to their demands Mrs Christie has resuscitated them, now grey-haired but still bouncing. This is a thriller, not a detective story, and needless to say an ingenious and exciting one; but anyone can write a thriller (well, almost anyone), whereas a genuine Agatha Christie could be written by one person only." ["The Guardian". December 13, 1968 (Page 10).]

Maurice Richardson in "The Observer" of November 17, 1968 said, "A latter-day adventure of Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, my least favourite of Mrs Christie's detectives, elderly now but still sprightly enough to give you a nasty dose of St Vitus's Dance." He summed up: "Not her best though it has patches of her cosy euphoria and aura of the sinister." ["The Observer" November 17, 1968 (Page 28)]

Robert Barnard: "Begins rather well, with a vicious old aunt of Tommy's in a genteel old people's home, but declines rapidly into a welter of half-realised plots and a plethora of those conversations, all too familiar in late Christie, which meander on through irrelevancies, repetitions and inconsequentialities to end nowhere (as if she had sat at the feet of Samuel Beckett). Makes one appreciate the economy of dialogue – all point, or at least possible point, in early Christie." [Barnard, Robert. "A Talent to Deceive – an appreciation of Agatha Christie" - Revised edition (Page 189). Fontana Books, 1990. ISBN 0006374743]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

In 2005, the novel was adaptated by the French director Pascal Thomas under the title "Mon petit doigt m'a dit..."

The novel was also adapted into a television movie in 2006 as part of the "Marple" series starring Geraldine McEwan. In order to insert the character of Marple into the story, the plot was altered with Tommy away on military intelligence business abroad, and Tommy's part of the story was re-written for Miss Marple.Tommy was played by Anthony Andrews and Tuppence by Greta Scacchi.

Publication history

* 1968, Collins Crime Club (London), November 1968, Hardcover, 256 pp
* 1968, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1968, Hardcover, 275 pp
* 1969, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback, 208 pp
* 1971, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 191 pp
* 1987, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, ISBN 0-70-891571-X


External links

* [ "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"] at the official Agatha Christie website
*imdb title|id= 0445570|title= Mon petit doigt m'a dit... (2005)
*imdb title|id= 0489227|title= Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs' (2006)

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