For an instant the two trains ran side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth McGillicuddy stared helplessly out of her carriage window as a man tightened his grip around a woman's throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away. But who, apart from Mrs. McGillicuddy's friend Jane Marple, would take her story seriously After all, there are no other witnesses, no suspects, and no case -- for there is no corpse, and no one is missing. Miss Marple asks her highly efficient and intelligent young friend Lucy Eyelesbarrow to infiltrate the Crackenthorpe family, who seem to be at the heart of the mystery, and help unmask a murderer.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
March 31, 2004
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Excerpt from 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
Mrs McGillicuddy panted along the platform in the wake of the porter carrying her suitcase. Mrs McGillicuddy was short and stout, the porter was tall and free-striding. In addition, Mrs McGillicuddy was burdened with a large quantity of parcels; the result of a day's Christmas shopping. The race was, therefore, an uneven one, and the porter turned the corner at the end of the platform whilst Mrs McGillicuddy was still coming up the straight.
No. 1 Platform was not at the moment unduly crowded, since a train had just gone out, but in the no-man's-land beyond, a milling crowd was rushing in several directions at once, to and from undergrounds, left-luggage offices, tea-rooms, inquiry offices, indicator boards, and the two outlets, Arrival and Departure, to the outside world.
Mrs McGillicuddy and her parcels were buffeted to and fro, but she arrived eventually at the entrance to No. 3 Platform, and deposited one parcel at her feet whilst she searched her bag for the ticket that would enable her to pass the stern uniformed guardian at the gate.
At that moment, a Voice, raucous yet refined, burst into speech over her head.
'The train standing at Platform 3,' the Voice told her, 'is the 4.50 for Brackhampton, Milchester, Waverton, Carvil Junction, Roxeter and stations to Chadmouth. Passengers for Brackhampton and Milchester travel at the rear of the train. Passengers for Vanequay change at Roxeter.' The Voice shut itself off with a click, and then reopened conversation by announcing the arrival at Platform 9 of the 4.35 from Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Mrs McGillicuddy found her ticket and presented it. The man clipped it, murmured: 'On the right -- rear portion.'
Mrs McGillicuddy padded up the platform and found her porter, looking bored and staring into space, outside the door of a third-class carriage.
'Here you are, lady.'