Having recently been won over by Agatha Christie, I decided to tackle my least favourite of her characters, Miss Marple. I’ve seen TV adaptations of some of the books and while Christie herself favoured Marple, I’m not a fan. She just seems like a bit of a stuck up busybody, and any murderer she was closing in on could easily just shove her down the stairs. I know the idea is that she deliberately makes herself appear less of a threat, but Columbo did it better, and if I have to follow the adventures of an older lady sleuth, I’ll pick Jessica Fletcher anytime.
But I saw this at a charity book stall and thought I’d give it a go. The six stories dealing with Miss Marple are all rather good fun, with her tackling a variety of cases and the stories showcasing a variety of different styles. The mysteries range from small scale thefts all the way up to murder, and Marple is almost annoyingly perfect in her deductions. At least with Poirot we see the little grey cells being pushed into action, Marple just knows things right off the bat.
That being said, she is a bit more likeable than I remember from the TV, with a sarky side and some humour in how she deals with the cases. Some of the cases are a little flimsy and based on massive coincidences or hunches, but they’re diverting enough and rather good fun.
The final two stories are very different, both dealing with supernatural themes of ghosts, visions of the future and a seemingly possessed doll. Neither is a massive success, and Christie doesn’t handle them with the ease she writes crime fiction. I hate dolls and dummies anyway, but the doll story is quite creepy but lacks any major incident and has a weak ending.
It’s a decent enough collection of quick reads, but it lacks the fun of Tommy and Tuppence, and I still prefer Poirot. Diverting, but lightweight.
Verdict: Six entertaining and brief mysteries are good fun, but the supernatural stories add little. Christie’s knack of creating curious mysteries is on show, but the solutions feel a tad easy in places. Fun but flimsy. 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.