Chronologically, I guess “The Mirror Crack’d” by Agatha Christie is one of the last few cases of Miss Marple.
Old and frail (yet sharp as ever), she is watching the world around her (and St. Mary Mead in particular) change with times. The village is all buzzing because a famous actress Marina Gregg and her director husband, Jason Rudd have taken residence in the Gossington Hall. But when the hall is opened for visitors for a fete, Heather Badcock, a local fan of Marina Gregg is poisoned in the private party for local VIPs.
The problem is, it is soon established that Marina passed Heather her drink when Heather’s own drink was accidentally spilled, and so it is more likely that somebody tried to kill Marina. With the investigation muddled, the only clue to the police is that Marina looked horrified/startled to see something while she was listening to Heather tell her a typical fan story of how she got sneaked of the sickbed to shake hands with Marina once before. Inspector Craddock has no choice except to get the help of his old acquaintance Miss Marple.
But after an initial period of no-progress, people start remembering things they saw, and start getting murdered (just as Miss Marple predicted). That is when she has to actively step in and solve the case.
Marina Gregg is a typical “famous film actress”, with myriad unhappy marriages and adopted children in tow. Unfortunately, her biological child is born mentally challenged, and she is just coming out of “therapy” and planning to get back to acting. Her (current) husband Jason Rudd is in love with her, and spends a lot of time protecting her from the world. Which of course gets on the nerves of his secretary. All in all, Gossington Hall is a typical filmy household containing famous people.
As I said, this is one of the last cases of Miss Marple. The old lady is frail, chaperoned by the (too much) fawning Mrs. Knight who is hired to keep her company. Her world is changing, with the village filled with people from The Development (married couples living in fabricated houses they bought on installment). She does not really fit in with the “new” residents, while there are very few old residents remaining around. But she is still as sharp as ever, and though people have changed, they are still the same way inside, and act the same way as ever. That’s why it is easy for her to place people and their motives, and so she is still able to help Inspector Craddock, and solve the case as usual.
It took me some time to get into Miss Marple mysteries after the fast-paced world of Holmes and even Poirot. But The Mirror Crack’d is a classical representative of the stories where Miss Marple solves the cases (sometimes literally) from her armchair, just based on psychology of characters involved. Not to mention that this is one more of the novels whose titles come from poems and nursery rhymes (which is perhaps Agatha Christie speciality).
P.S. This is my third book (and first review) for “Book to Movie Challenge“. Although I haven’t watched the movie yet, I am trying to get my hands on it. I just hope they haven’t made it into something akin to “And Then There Were None…“.
Quote of The Day:
Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson