- Parker Pyne
Parker Pyne is a detective who appears in two
Agatha Christiebooks: " Parker Pyne Investigates" and " The Regatta Mystery". His quote and sales pitch is always "Are you happy? If not consult Mr Parker Pyne, 17 Richmond Street." Most don't notice this ad, some chuckle, and read on. And just a few make their way to Mr Parker Pyne's modest office and meet the world's most unusual, baffling and intriguing detective.
Here is how Christopher Parker Pyne was first described in "The case of the Middle-Aged Wife"::"Somehow or other, the very appearance of Mr Parker Pyne brought a feeling of reasurance. He was large but not to say fat; he had a bald head of noble proportions, strong glasses, and a little twinkle in his eye."
Parker Pyne is a retired government employee turned philanthropist who considers himself to be a "detective of the heart." The exact nature of his former job and his former position in the British government was never stated but he claimed to have been involved in the gathering of
statistics. This leads to the theory that his job was the same as Mycroft Holmes, a human super computer, specialising in omniscience.
This theory carries some weight as the resemblance between Parker Pyne and Mycroft Holmes is hard to deny. Both are heavy set fellows.Both appear to possess superior skills to that of their counterparts (
Sherlock Holmes/ Hercule Poirot) but they are both nonetheless incapable of performing similar detective work since they are both unwilling to put in the physical effort necessary to bring cases to their conclusions.
While he does occasionally exert himself in the stories where he is on vacation, he on the whole remains a sedentary problem-solver, providing solutions based on seemingly little evidence and trusting his agents to handle any of the practical details. He himself rarely goes to see his clients after their first meeting, although he get reports on their progress from his hench-people. In fact, Pyne's own lack of drive and faith in his minions' skills can be a severe handicap despite his deductive talents, as it resulted in the failure of his efforts in "The Case of the Discontented Husband", Pyne's only recorded failure.
Parker Pyne is also an uncommon type of detective, who doesn't usually investigate murders or similar crimes, but rather prefers to help his clients to reencounter happiness. For such, he applies the knowledge he has acquired in 35 years of work in a
statisticsoffice, from which he retired, establishing later on his own on 17 Richmond Street, London.
He has a theory that there are five main types of unhappiness and all are logically resoluble. His methods are unorthodox and he often employs deception and constructs elaborate charades to fool the suspects and cure unhappiness successfully.
Though he is, apparently, limited to a specific type of investigation, Pyne also has uncommon capabilities for criminal investigation. He works alongside his neurotic assistant
Miss Lemon, novelist Ariadne Oliver, handsome lounge lizardClaude Luttrell and disguise artist Madeline de Sara. Whatever the case is, he always has the aid of his team (outnumbered, but as effective as they are extravagant).
Books and stories featuring Parker Pyne
1934- "The Discontented Soldier" - Parker Pyne becomes involved in buried treasure and secret maps when helping an old soldier.
1934- "The Case of the Middle-Aged Wife" - Parker Pyne helps fix a failing marriage.
1934- "The Case of the Distressed Lady" - Pyne shows his slippery side when helping an apparently distressed woman.
1934- "The Case of the Discontented Husband" - Parker Pyne once again helps fix a failing marriage.
1934- "The Case of the City Clerk" - Pyne helps a mild mannered City Clerk live life.
1934- "The Case of the Rich Lady" - Parker Pyne helps an old lady to spend her money, in his own unconventional way.
1934- "Have You Got Everything You Want" - Pyne helps a woman discover the secret goings-on aboard a train.
1934- "The Gate of Baghdad" - A fellow traveller is murdered en route and Pyne is forced to investigate.
1934- "The House of Shiraz" - Parker Pyne investigates the mysteries surrounding the House of Shiraz.
1934- "The Pearl of Price" - Parker Pyne helps recover the titular Pearl.
1934- "Death on the Nile" - Parker Pyne is hired by a woman who believes her husband is poisoning her.
1934- "The Oracle of Delphi" - Parker Pyne helps rescue a kidnapped child. - These short stories were later collected into the book " Parker Pyne Investigates".
1939- " The Regatta Mystery" - The title story has Mr. Parker Pyne catch a diamond thief during regatta festivities at Dartmouth harbor.
1939- "The Problem at Pollensa Bay" - concerns a mother's dislike for her son's fiancée. The problem is solved (non-violently) by fellow vacationer Parker Pyne.
Parker Pyne in other Media
The Agatha Christie Hour (1982) a series of ten hour-long dramas produced for Thames TV, London featured two episodes based on Parker Pyne stories: The Case of the Middle Aged Wife and The Case of the Discontented Soldier both directed by Michael Simpson.
Parker Pynes name in "Parker Pyne investigates" is James Parker Pyne. In "The Problem at Pollensa Bay" his name is then given as Christopher Parker Pyne. The reason for this change of name, not counting an error on Christie's part, is unknown.
Pyne's secretary, Miss Lemon, is apparently the same woman who was secretary to Hercule Poirot. Whether she came into Pyne's employ during one of Poirot’s numerous retirements or before she entered his employ is unknown, though she is described as "a young woman" in Parker Pyne's story "The Discontented Soldier", but as having grizzled hair in the Poirot novel "Hickory Dickory Death", suggesting that she worked for Pyne before working for Poirot. This along with the appearance of Ariadne Oliver suggests that Pyne and Poirot share the same fictional universe, similar to
the League of Extraordinary Gentlemenand the Wold Newton family, even though they never actually met.
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