Book review: Marple – Twelve New Mysteries

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 Permalink

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Agatha Christie – in particular all-things-Miss Marple who is my favourite Christie crime-solver (followed by Poirot and very distantly by the Beresfords). I’ve written before also about my favourite Miss Marple actress who (despite my usual lack of visual-ness) I ‘picture’ when I think of Miss Marple.

Anyhoo, like everything it seems… everything old is new again and several well-known authors have contributed to an anthology featuring my very favourite female detective.

Book review: Marple – Twelve New MysteriesMarple: Twelve New Stories
by Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Dreda Say Mitchell, Kate Mosse, Ruth Ware
Published by Harper Collins
on 15/09/2022
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 0008467323
Pages: 384

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Agatha Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time

Featuring stories by:
Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Dreda Say Mitchell, Kate Mosse and Ruth Ware.

I’ve talked before about the incarnation of Poirot by Sophie Hannah (and the fact I wished Anthony Horowitz was given that responsibility as I think he better reflects Christie’s style).

It’s a long time since I read anything by Agatha Christie (though I’ve read them all multiple times so remember the plots far too well) so I’m probably less familiar than I once was with her ‘voice’ or that of Miss Marple but some of these authors nailed that, along with Jane Marple’s quirks better than others. All were enjoyable however and – though I’m not usually a fan of short stories – I’m reminded that they’re handy reads when you know you’re going to be interrupted. You don’t have to put a book aside mid-chapter and forget plot nuances. Rather you’re offered bite-sized snacks easily devourable in a sitting.

Ruth Ware’s Miss Marple’s Christmas was a standout for me with her Jane feeling like the Jane I know, remember and love. I also enjoyed The Unravelling by Natalie Haynes and The Murdering Sort by Karen M McManus (which featured Miss Marple’s great great niece!!!).

Interestingly MANY featured Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew (he was referenced on occasion in the original series, but more so here I think), and the issue of race and racism touched on quite often… with these short stories better reflecting today’s multicultural society than Dame Agatha’s Miss Marple novels which were published between 1930 and 1976.

One of my criticisms of the short story is that they can often feel abbreviated or a little underdone. Here there are a couple that end unexpectedly – in terms of timing rather than a twist. And a couple that veered from Agatha Christie’s famous habit of burying clues amongst many red herrings; but overall it was lovely to revisit the past. And it was interesting to see how contemporary writers translate Miss Marple which I assume was a challenge – to maintain the original while offering something new and fresh and putting their own stamp on the witty and wiry spinster. (Or bachelorette as I prefer to think of her!)

Marple – Twelve New Mysteries was published by Harper Collins and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.  

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