Tag Archives: Miss Marple

The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie

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Some days, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, of the village of St. Mary Mead, is the only remedy for the clamoring global village we inhabit. They serve tea in her world. And they converse. And she solves every glimmer of a crime, of course, without batting an eye or missing a cream scone. So The Body in the Library was the perfect read for today.  The body, a young strangulation victim with dyed blond hair and chewed fingernails, turns up in the morning as the servants pull back the drapes in the library of a friend of Miss Marple. Lucky for the annals of crime. It’s a bit more comfy-shabby than Downton Abbey but the whole servant-local-gossip-our-kind-of-people thing is very much in evidence. So are a few telling clues that our sweet sharp-eyed sleuth spots promptly while everyone else is dithering about being official.

Can’t spoil this for anyone who likes Christie and hasn’t read it yet. But it’s safe to say that there is more than one body; there are numerous, logical suspects; social systems get slightly but never fatally deconstructed; and Miss Marple’s powers of deduction are formidable, as ever. The characters are either caricatures or incredibly shallow and insubstantial but that’s not why you were reading this murder mystery in the first place, is it? The plot is as tangled as a runaway ball of yarn–the motive is anyway–but Jane Marple remains undaunted and unravels the mess without breaking a sweat.

In the end, crime solved, justice served, and probably tea, too. It would be nice to have a shelf of unread Christie murder mysteries lined up, like a supply of Xanax, to blunt the sharp edges of too much real life. Real life is occasionally this theatrical and lethal–but never this neat.  

The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)   Agatha Christie | Signet  2000

A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Christie

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Miss Marple gets around—but she drags her portmanteau of closed societies spilt open by most puzzling murders with her. So, when Agatha Christie sends Jane Marple to the Caribbean, trouble is bound to follow. Maybe it would be fairer to say that, in A Caribbean Mystery, the redoubtable Miss Marple is sharp-eyed enough to catch what lesser mortals miss—mortality in its most unnatural guise.

This island resort, a panacea for arthritis, rheumatism, and the respiratory distress of a gloomy British winter, is as small a stage as any village. Every character is tainted with suspicion and scrutinized by the practiced eye of a little old amateur detective who is easily bored. She knits. She engages in and suffers through polite conversation. She sees plot, motive and conspiracy in the banal—and, of course, she is absolutely correct.

But the mystery of the killer is as tangled as Miss Marple’s yarn and Christie spins a lively yarn in the untangling of it. There are bodies—some violently managed and some that appear to have slipped the bonds of the living unharmed. Hah. Jane Marple’s antennae are madly waving throughout and no one is safe from her prying, poking and perceptive gaze.

There are drugs—a lot of drugs. Most of them are prescription but not always administered to those for whom they were prescribed. There is a fair amount of wandering around in the tropical moonlight and much of it isn’t the least romantic. Romance is calculated and the resort is one big couples swap beneath its façade. Fatal cases of mistaken identity, malicious cases of false identity and a muddle of confusion in which the killer hides in plain sight can’t stump Miss Marple in the end.

She saves the day but her knitting productivity suffers, as does her vacation reading. Oh well, plenty of time for reading when she returns home—until her next turn as the village busybody who exposes evildoers with a prodigious amount of snooping and a minimum of fuss.

A Caribbean Mystery: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries)  Agatha Christie | Signet   2000