I had read this book long ago and for some reason, it refused to exit the mind.
Recently, I started a reading series - all of Agatha Christie's short stories. Accordingly, in order, one read:
A. The complete short stories of Miss Marple (20, methinks)
B. The complete short stories of Poirot (52 in all)
C. Parker Pyne Investigates
D. Partners in Crime - to be done later
E. While the Light Lasts - to be done later
F. The Mysterious Mr. Quin
The book has 12 stories, but not in any particular order. In one, Mr. Satterthwaite is 60, and in another, 69. Other than that, his character is remarkably consistent, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Most of Christie's work, in fact, all of it, even the ones that appear to cross over to the supernatural, are eventually discovered to be rooted firmly in the this world. Therefore, they are, more or less, suited for young adults as completely fantastic fiction.
Not this series. This one is not recommended for children. Not just because in this book, the supernatural is very apparent and is never explained away. In fact, in the final story, it is firmly established.
This book deals with the dark and the macabre in the human mind. The most fertile, crime-infested place in the world is not New York, Chicago, Africa, or any other geographical place that might have come to your mind. It is the human mind. The human mind is capable of creating and realising terror that the crime neighbourhoods can only aspire to.
This book delves into that dark neighbourhood, and repeatedly. Its the kind of book you dream about for 2-3 days after you have read it.
To an adult, it is very enjoyable. As much a psychological thriller as detective fiction overlapping supernatural conjectures.
The final story is my favourite. Because, the story of the Harlequin is not personal to me. It does not, by itself, evoke any sentiment. But in the final story, the author truly brings to life the legend of the Harlequin and evokes the right sentiments in the reader. It all falls into place.
The concept of Harlequin appears more than once in Christie's writing. But this entire series of 12 stories is a treat. Recommended not just as a read, but also a re-read. :)