Presented in this collection are: the man found dying in the church sanctuary; the puzzle of Uncle Henry's hidden legacy; the question of the murder with the tape-measure; the curious conduct of the caretaker; the case of Miss Skinner's maid and the baffling mystery of the stabbing of Mrs Rhodes.
Well after maybe a 35 year hiatus between my last reading of the venerable Dame of Crime Fiction, I thought it was time to head back down to St Mary Mead and see what all the fuss was about.
The easiest option for me was to have a crack at a few of her Miss Marple short stories and having picked up this charity shop bargain for the humungous sum of 25p when out and about with my wife and youngest daughter on Monday, I decided to bump the dame off.......sorry, bump her up the queue and get started.
6 stories – 142 pages – 2-3 hours reading time.
Well I can add another female author to the tally and possibly can tick a box on my silver bingo card for my Vintage Mystery challenge, I will check later. Two bonus plusses.
Verdict......well I didn't manage to guess the culprit or guilty party or unravel the mystery in any of the tales before the big reveal, so that was good. And AC can certainly paint a vivid picture for you of her characters; in this particular instance a bed-bound spinster.........with a good deal of greyish-yellow hair untidily wound around her head and erupting into curls, the whole thing looked like a bird’s nest of which no self-respecting bird could be proud. So another tick there. Thirdly, most of the stories engaged me and had me speeding along to the end, so I can’t in all honesty feign indifference.
I think what struck me was how unsympathetic most of her victims and villains all appeared to be. In the case of the hidden legacy, I didn't like old Uncle Henry’s beneficiaries and was half hoping that Miss Marple was unable (or perhaps more entertainingly) unwilling to solve the riddle and therefore deprive the horrible, vile rats of their inheritance. I guess Marple though couldn't possibly dare to fail. There’s something a little bit unappealing to me about someone who has to be shown to be the cleverest person in the room, all the time. She might just be a little too smug and self-satisfied for me to tolerate too much of her. Time will tell; maybe a longer exposure to our elderly spinster’s charms will seduce me and have me swooning helplessly in admiration? The 4.50 from Paddington may seal the deal! I’m prepared to be wooed.
Last observation, I’m unsure when these were originally written – this collection was originally published in 1979, but there are probably too many servants and mistresses, or gentry-types and underlings for me to want to spend too much time in their company. A bit too dated, a bit too Upstairs-Downstairs, a bit too class conscious and a bit too genteel for me. Each to their own, but I will probably not read too many of her other books.
Anyway I must dash......tea and scone time in the drawing room, nanny’s just rung the bell.......... yummy – so toodle pips!
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I bought my copy second-hand recently.