The quaint village of St Mary Mead has been glamourized by the presence of screen queen Marina Gregg, who has taken up residence in preparation for her comeback. But when a local fan is poisoned, Marina finds herself starring in a real-life mystery—supported with scene-stealing aplomb by Jane Marple, who suspects that the lethal cocktail was intended for someone else. But who? If it was meant for Marina, then why? And before the final fade-out, who else from St Mary Mead's cast of seemingly innocent characters is going to be eliminated?
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Interesting to have an aging but capable detective. Everything is rather sedate, in consequence...more
I liked the Joan Hickson version of the story but I always wish they would give the poor woman more than one hat. I really don't believe she would wear the same hat to garden in that she wears to church and other social events. It is a subtle way to dumb her down and give the viewer a distorted vision of Miss Marple a person who bumbles into the answers rather than using her very acute mind.more
Published in 1962 this is one of Christie’s later novels and does address quite well the social changes that are taking place in rural England at the time. There is a new housing development on the outskirts of St Mary Mead which is changing the place’s character and contributing to Miss Marple’s sense that she’s losing touch with things. Miss Marple is also more elderly than ever. She even has to submit to the indignity of a full-time live-in companion; a very annoying woman who treats Miss Marple like she is a stupid child. I think Christie has done a really terrific job of capturing the frustration experienced by someone who is aging but is in full command of their mental faculties even if their physical abilities aren’t what they used to be.
However the plot here is not one of Christie’s best. The first half of the book labours several points too often, including the actress’ nervous state and the link to the book’s title (it’s a line from a Tennyson poem called the Lady of Shalott which must have been repeated at least a half-dozen times). There is one too many amazing coincidences revealed at the end. One of these is believable (in fact the book is based on something that happened to actress Gene Tierney but don’t google it unless you don’t mind spoilers) but the second is overkill (and totally unnecessary as it adds nothing to the story whatsoever). I also found the depiction of the policeman called in to investigate the crime to be quite unrealistic (although he’s very sweet to Miss Marple).
To be honest I’ve always preferred Hercule Poirot over Miss Marple so my reaction to this book is not that surprising. While Poirot is far too clever to be real and would undoubtedly be an insufferable chap to spend any time with at least he is depicted with faults whereas Jane Marple has always struck me as impossibly perfect. And the Poirot plots are the more puzzling, clue-based ones that fit with my preference for logic whereas those featuring Miss Marple tend to be based more on what seem to me to be rather wild and random assumptions about human nature.
Also, sadly, I did not enjoy Hickson’s narration. She seemed to swallow her words and fade away as if she was turning from the microphone and I read to rewind several times to catch what she was saying and she really didn’t seem to be paying that much attention to what she was saying. So if you are going to track down this book I wouldn’t recommend this particular audio version.more