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