Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Glimpse into the World of Mysteries

Hey friends! Sorry I haven't posted in a while but all the sudden my life got rather busy. Now that the pace seems to be getting back to normal, I can do a blog post that has been bouncing around in my mind for a while. For around a month now I have had a Miss Marple Mystery binge. For those of you who may not know, they are mystery books written by the infamous Agatha Christie, the "Queen of Mystery." She specializes in murder mysteries, but they aren't gruesome, the books center on suspects and clues, like a whodunit mystery. The Miss Marple series is about a little old woman, living in the small English village of St. Mary Mead. Miss Marple of the white hair and china blue eyes, innocently gossiping and knitting... and solving murder mysteries!
It all started when my aunt (who turned me on to Anne of Green Gables that led to all of my old fashioned obsessions…) recommended them to me. Luckily, she had all the books and knew which ones to start me on.

I actually started with Agatha Christie’s last Miss Marple book: Sleeping Murder. Well, I was hooked. I zipped through that one, and was shocked absolutely shocked at who it turned out to be!
Well, when I told my aunt how much I enjoyed it she casually mentioned there were MISS MARPLE MOVIES TO GO ALONG WITH THEM! She asked if I’d be interested, I, of course, was and I met the dear Joan Hickson, who plays Miss Marple.
They were wonderful adaptations of the books. I would read one Miss Marple, then immediately watch the movie that went along with it. I literally get chills every time I think of the ending to Sleeping Murder!

The next Miss Marple I read was entitled Murder is Announced. It’s about a small town village. The villagers are reading the local newspaper when they come across a strange advertisement. There is a murder to be announced at Miss Letitia Blacklock’s! So, of course, everyone is fascinated. They all come, under false pretences, to see what it was all about. Well, Miss Blacklock didn’t know what it was about! She said she hadn’t put that ad in the paper! Well, then imagine everyone’s surprise when the lights go out and a real murder is announced….

The next book I read was The Mirror Crack’d, which is supposed to allude to Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shallot. “Out flew the web and opened wide, the mirror crack’d from side to side, and the curse has come upon me! Cried the Lady of Shallot.” Which, of course, coincides with a certain red-headed heroine’s novel that we all know and love! Anyway, the book is about an aging film star who buys the mansion in St. Mary Mead, where Miss Marple lives. The actress, Marina Gregg, hosts a garden party. At this party, one of her fans, Mrs. Heather Badcock, is killed when she consumes a poisoned drink supposedly meant for Marina Gregg! Can Miss Marple solve this mystery before there’s yet another murder?
This was a lovely movie adaptation. Marina Gregg isn’t exactly as I pictured her, but she did a great job! Cherry was exactly as I pictured her and did a fantastic job too. The end was tied up very nicely and you could see both sides of the story. A toast to the ingenious Miss Marple!

The third mystery was Murder at the Vicarage. This was actually from first person point of view, which was new, and it was from the point of view of the vicar, who I’d never met before. This is also the first of the novels, that I’d read, where there are outlines of the room and markings to show the body, clues, etc., which was rather nice to see! Anyway, the vicar and his charming young wife are introduced. We go on to see all the cast, and see each of their motives for wanting to get rid of the disagreeable Colonel Protheroe. So, when the Colonel is found dead in the Vicar’s office, he’s the prime suspect! Can the Vicar, with the help of our lovely Miss Marple, clear his name? Find out in Murder at the Vicarage.
The movie was lovely for Murder at the Vicarage. They took out a few minor characters, but the main plot remained unaltered, so I really didn’t mind. Fantastic finish! A must see.

          The next in my reading was The Body in the Library. This centers on a dear friend of Miss Marple’s, a Mrs. Dolly Bantry. Mrs. Bantry wakes up one morning to find her maid screaming something about a body in the library. It can’t be true! Sadly, it’s only too true. A fashionable, bleach blond girl is found lying strangled on the library floor…and no one seems to know who she is! Can Miss Marple get to the bottom of this for her dear friends sake?
          This was a great movie, although one of the more graphic ones. It doesn’t show the head, but it does show the body and describes vividly some unpleasant scenes. Nothing too horrid, though. A very well done movie, as they all are.

         What Mrs. McGillicuddy saw seemed rather different than her usual. It is also known as 4:50 from Paddington, one of her more well-known mysteries. Miss Marple’s friend, Mrs. McGillicuddy, was riding over to St. Mary Mead when another train pulled up to her coach, when she witnessed a woman being strangled in the opposite coach! The murderer was facing away from her, so she didn’t see his face. Worst of all, no one seems to believe she saw it; especially since no body was found, but one person believes her…. Miss Marple! And she won’t let it rest until this mystery is brought to light.

          A Caribbean Mystery was one of my more recent reads. Miss Marple is on a relaxing vacation in the Caribbean islands…. That is, until one of her fellow vacationers is found dead! Everyone assumes he died of a heart attack, being an older gentleman, but Miss Marple has her suspicions…. And if her hunch is correct, she needs to get to the bottom of this before another innocent person is murdered!
          The movie to this was very interesting. I especially liked Miss Marple’s accomplice, Mr. Rafiel. J This movie was a nice way to spend the ten hour trip in the car on the way to our spring break destination!
A Pocketful of Rye is an intricate and suspenseful mystery…. With a very surprising ending, in my opinion…. And it follows the old nursery rhyme: the King was in his counting house…. The Queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey…. When a blackbird came and pecked her on the nose! There are several murders in this one, alluding to a rather deranged killer. There are many suspicious people, as no one seemed to like the deceased, Rex Fortisque, and many people stood to profit by his death! Find out who is behind this intricate plot in A Pocketful of Rye.
The Moving finger was one of the last Miss Marple’s I read. It all starts with some “poison pen notes going around a little English country village. All harmless enough… until it seems a suicide has been committed because of it! But was it suicide? Luckily, Miss Marple is on the scene! Can she figure out who is righting these silly, nasty letters before it’s too late?
          This book was very good, and has a delightful twist at the end. Also some romance is thrown in, which doesn’t usually happen in the Miss Marple novels.

          Nemesis is a sort-of sequel to A Caribbean Mystery. It has overlapping characters, references to the earlier book, etc. So I would recommend reading A Caribbean Mystery first. But you must read Nemesis! It starts out when poor Mr. Rafiel dies, leaving Miss Marple a mysterious post-mortem letter… to solve a mystery! Almost no details are included, just a ticket to an English Garden tour. Even with a lack of information, Miss Marple is hooked, and she won’t stop until Justice is served!

          Murder with Mirrors is the last book I read. Its original British title was They Do it with Mirrors. It all takes place in a mental institute, just crawling with potential suspects! But Miss Marple believes this was an inside job, one of the family. At, first there’s just strange goings-on, but when someone turns up shot, things turn dangerous…. On top of that, it’s thought someone is trying to poison the mistress of the house, who is Miss Marple’s dear childhood friend! Nothing seems to match up, but Miss Marple is determined to get to the bottom of it, for her dear friend Carrie Louis.

There is one last novel, called Bertram’s Hotel. I can’t give you a very good synopsis. I’ll try to do a quick post on it later. My aunt hadn’t found the book until later.

          This was my first glimpse into the world of mysteries, and it is fascinating! I am now reading another series, a bit more modern, called The Tea Shop Mysteries. It’s set in Charleston, South Carolina. Theodosia Browning owns a tea shop in the historic district. Mysteries seem to just throw themselves in Theodosia’s way… with interesting tidbits on tea and delightful mysteries, these books are a rare treat! A modern Miss Marple, if I do say so myself. J I hope y’all enjoyed this post! Sorry that it’s been a little while since I posted. I had spring break and lots of work! I think my schedule should be getting back to normal soon! 


  1. I've read a few of Dame Agatha's books, and found them pleasantly diverting, though they're not my favorites. But they're about as clean as a murder mystery can get, which is a total plus.

    If you're looking for another series to start, one that lacks some of the ickier things a lot of mysteries have, I recommend the "Rabbi Small" mysteries by Harry Kemelman -- the detective in those is actually a Jewish Rabbi, and he uses his training at analyzing the Talmud to figure out crimes. The first is "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late."

    And there are the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries, too, of course :-) I'm in the process of rereading all of those in order this year. Love them!

    I think my mom has read some of the Tea Shop mysteries, but I haven't -- I love Charleston, so I'll have to try to find them.

    1. Thanks for your reccomendation! I'll have to check them out! I would definitely reccomend the Tea Shop mysteries, and some time, I hope to read the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. But right now I'm interested in the Pickwick Papers by Dickens, I assume you've read them... what did you think?

    2. I haven't read TPP yet! There's a copy on my to-read shelf right now... maybe I should read it along with you? Once I finish the 2 books I have from the library...

    3. Ah, I know the feeling... so many good books so little time; it's a good problem to have!