4 50 From Paddington Botm News

Book of the Month

Book of the Month: 4:50 From Paddington

6th March 2018

For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman’s throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away. But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses… and no corpse.

Mrs Christie's latest is a model detective story; one keeps turning back to verify clues, and not one is irrelevant or unfair.
The Times, 1957

4.50 from Paddington represents everything that we know and love about Agatha Christie’s mystery novels. We have the classic train journey from London into the English countryside; there’s a ‘did she or didn’t she see?’ scenario in the first few pages when Mrs McGillicuddy thinks she saw a murder on an adjacent train; there’s the familiar stately home location; and of course all this is presided over by the indomitable Miss Marple. At the heart of the story is Lucy Eylesbarrow; arguably the most modern and practical of Christie’s characters.

The story was first published in the US in 1957 under the title What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw  and as 4:50 from Paddington in the UK. It has been adapted many times, the first being in 1961 in Margaret Rutherford’s first appearance as Miss Marple. Thirty years later it was adapted for the BBC starring Joan Hickson as the much-loved sleuth, and later still in 2004 with Geraldine McEwan in the central role. 

Listen to a 20 minute audio excerpt of 4:50 from Paddington.