The Mirror’ Cracked From Side To Side by Agatha Christie first published 1962
Miss Marple was feeling rather down and a bit weak after an attack of bronchitis. Her doctor prescribes ” a nice juicy murder” for her to unravel and not long after the ideal opportunity arose with the death of Heather Badcock. Heather had gone to a fete at Gossington Hall held by her idol, the glamorous movie star Marina Gregg. She died after drinking a poisoned cocktail, just after meeting Marina. The title is taken from Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalot, a convincing image of Marina’s reaction on meeting Heather – “… ‘the doom has come upon me’, cried the Lady of Shalott.” Heather was the sort of person no-one would want to murder, she was a very kind woman who always did things for other people. Her trouble was that she was sure she knew the best thing to do and she was only really interested in herself. Such people Miss Marple observed “live dangerously – though they don’t know it themselves.” So why was she killed and was Marina really the intended victim?
I remember seeing the TV adaptation of this book with my favourite Miss Marple – Joan Hickson – and although I did remember who had committed the murder I didn’t remember the motive, nor how it had happened. As I read on it all came back to me – just what the doom was. As usual with Agatha Christie’s books,which are so deceptively easy to read, all is not straight forward and there are many complications and twists before the denoument.
There was lots to enjoy in this book – not just the puzzle of the murder, but also the setting and the characterisation. The setting is St Mary Mead, once an idyllic English village, now threatened by the “Development” of rows of new houses and Miss Marple’s attitude towards it as she explored it. At first it didn’t seem real to her – it “was like a neat model built with child’s bricks” and the people looked unreal to her, she thought it all looked “terribly depraved”. Then she realised that although everything and everyone looked and sounded different the human beings were the same as they always had been. It’s from her understanding of human nature that she is able to solve the crime.
I also liked the characterisation of Miss Marple, now an old lady thought incapable of looking after herself and the neat way she handles Miss Knight her live-in companion who talks to her as though she is a child. In fact all the characters have that touch of reality that brought them alive. Their idiosyncracies are what makes them seem real people.
For more reviews of Agatha Christie’s books have a look at the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival.
This is the ninth library book I’ve read this year so I’m well on target to read at least 25 library books by the end of December. Click on the logo for links to other bloggers reviews of library books.