Sleeping Murder is Miss Marple’s last case, published posthumously in 1976, although Agatha Christie had written it during the Second World War. Miss Marple investigates a murder that had happened 18 years ago.
As I began to read I thought it seemed familiar and then I realised I’d watched the TV version a few years ago, with Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple and after a couple of chapters I remembered who the murderer was. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment as I was able to see the clues as they cropped up.
‘Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle, she died young …’
She sprang up from her seat, pushed blindly past the others out into the aisle, through the exit and up the stairs and so to the street. She did not stop, even then, but half walked, half ran, in a blind panic up the Haymarket (Page 27)
She is convinced that she is going mad, but she is helped by Miss Marple, whose nephew, Raymond West is a distant cousin of Gwenda’s husband, Giles. It’s a most baffling ‘˜cold case’, because first of all they have to discover who, if anyone, had been killed, where, when and why. It does all rather depend on a number of coincidences, beginning with the fact that Gwenda has bought the house that she had lived in as a very young child, but as Miss Marple explains to Gwenda:
‘˜It’s not impossible, my dear. It’s just a very remarkable coincidence – and remarkable coincidences do happen. You wanted a house on the south coast, you were looking for one, and you passed a house that stirred memories and attracted you. It was the right size and a reasonable price, so you bought it. No, it’s not too wildly improbable. Had the house been merely what it is called (perhaps rightly) a haunted house, you would have reacted differently, I think. But you had no feeling of violence or revulsion except, so you have told me, at one very definite moment, and that was when you were just starting to come down the staircase and looking down into the hall. (Pages 33-4)
That moment, as it turned out was very significant, indeed.
Sleeping Murder is a satisfying puzzle and I liked this last view of Miss Marple, compassionate and shrewd and this description of her appearance:
Miss Marple was an attractive old lady, tall and thin, with pink cheeks and blue eyes, and a gentle, rather fussy manner. Her blue eyes often had a little twinkle in them. (page 26)
- My rating: 4/5
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece edition (Reissue) edition (2 Jun 2008)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 0007121067
- ISBN-13: 978-0007121069
- Source: I bought the book