Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

 Marple: Twelve New Mysteries (2022) by various (no editor noted)

A dozen new stories about Miss Jane Marple written by some of the leading mystery writers of today. We follow her from the familiar places of St. Mary Mead (Gossington Hall and the vicarage) to London and to New York City and a cruise to Hong Kong. Everywhere she goes there's sure to be hints of murder. I've mentioned before that short story collections tend to be a mixed bag--and this one is no different. Nearly all of the stories get the tone and feel of the Christie mysteries right, but not all are able to achieve Christie's way of hiding clues in plain sight. One of the authors just plain hides the clues--there's no way the reader will know exactly what Miss Marple saw and all about the relationship between two of the characters--two characters who are barely mentioned. And I'm not sold on the ending of the last story. However, it is an entertaining collection and well worth a look even if every story isn't up to Christie's standard. My favorites are "The Unravelling" by Natalie Haynes, "Miss Marple's Christmas" by Ruth Ware, "The Open Mind" by Naomi Alderman, and "The Mystery of the Acid Soil" by Kate Mosse. "The Jade Empress" by Jean Kwok comes close to the top tier.  and 1/4.

"Evil in Small Places" by Lucy Foley: Miss Marple visits a former schoolmate and finds herself on the spot when the church's new choir director is murdered. Helpful hint in ROT13* Vs lbh cyna gb zheqre fbzrbar, QBA'G vaivgr Zvff Znecyr gb or n ubhfrthrfg gung jrrxraq. Vg jba'g raq jryy sbe lbh. [one poisoned; one stabbed]

"The Second Murder at the Vicarage" by Val McDermid: The Clements thought it was bad enough to have had that first murder at the vicarage. But the vicar comes home to find their former housemaid hit over the head with a heavy frying pan and no explanation why she was back in the house. Inspector Slack is on the case, but Jane Marple will solve it. SPOILER in ROT13*: Iny ZpQrezvq nccneragyl guvaxf Zvff Znecyr vf Fureybpx Ubyzrf. Ubyqvat pyhrf pybfr gb ure purfg naq tvivat n fhecevfr raqvat. Gurer'f abguvat gb fhttrfg gur eryngvbafuvc orgjrra gjb punenpgref (jub ner, ol gur jnl, oneryl zragvbarq) naq jr'er fhccbfrq gb or zvaq ernqref naq xabj cerpvfryl jung xvaq bs obbx Zvff Znecyr fcvrq ba gung obbxfurys. Vs jr'er tbvat gb qb Znecyr zlfgrevrf, gura Tbyqra Ntr snve cynl fubhyq or va cynl. Ernqref znl unir zvff gur pyhrf Puevfgvr jnirf haqre bhe abfrf, ohg gurl ner gurer. [one poisoned; one hit on head]

"Miss Marple Takes Manhattan" by Alyssa Cole: When Raymond West's novel is turned into a Broadway play, he invites his Aunt Jane to join him on the trip to America for the opening. Of course, wherever Miss Marple goes, murder is sure to follow...or is it? Slight Spoiler in ROT13: Guvf bar vf n ovg bs n purng--gurer vf ab zheqre. Whfg gur nccrnenapr bs bar...

"The Unravelling" by Natalie Haynes: An older man by the name of Martin arrives in the village and takes a job minding pigs for a farmer. After an altercation with Mr. Weaver, owner of the haberdashery, Martin is found the next morning with an arrow through the heart. Since he was new to the area and Weaver is the only one known to have had an argument with him, naturally the local police figure he's the killer. But Jane Marple knows better. Good clues in this one--hidden in plain sight just as Christie would have done.[one stabbed]

"Miss Marple's Christmas" by Ruth Ware: Miss Marple, Raymond West, and his wife Joan are invited to the Bantry's for a "real, old-fashioned" Christmas. Also in attendance are Major & Mrs. Dashwood and their nephew, whom Colonel Bantry somehow managed to invite while at a shooting party. During the festivities, Mrs. Dashwood's pearl necklace disappears. Leave it to Miss Marple to solve the mystery of the missing pearls. Another with good clues--if you know your vintage mysteries.

"The Open Mind" by Naomi Alderman: Murder at the high table at St. Bede's College, Oxford. Miss Marple attends as a guest of one of the honorary fellows of the College and finds the solution to the murdered Master. One thing I would like to know--has Jane Marple found the fountain of youth or how old is she anyway? She's described as fairly old when she first appears in 1927. By the 1970s she's got be over a hundred.[one poisoned]

"The Jade Empress by Jean Kwok: Miss Marple is once again traveling courtesy of her very generous nephew Raymond West. This time she's sailing for Hong Kong and solving murders along the way. [one poisoned, one stabbed]

"A Deadly Wedding Day" by Dreda Say Mitchell: It's up to Miss Marple to discover who poisoned the unwelcome guest at the wedding of the niece of one of her old friends. [one poisoned]

"Murder at the Villa Rosa" by Elly Griffiths:  A crime novelist plots to kill off his irritating detective while his fellow guests at the Villa Rose tell him about strange deaths they know about. Spoiler in ROT13:  Nabgure purng (gur svefg vf erirnyrq va bar bs gur fcbvyref)...ab erny zheqref fbyirq ol Zvff Znecyr va guvf bar. [three natural; one poisoned]

"The Murdering Sort" by Karen M. McManus: Miss Marple helps her great, great niece solve the murder of the elderly man who was planning on changing his will. There's always one of those around somewhere in these Golden Age mysteries.... [one poisoned]

"The Mystery of the Acid Soil" by Kate Mosse: When Miss Marple visits an old friend, she gets interested in the disappearance of a young woman...only to discover that there have been two murders done. [two poisoned]

"The Disappearance" by Leigh Bardugo: Dolly Bantry calls on Miss Marple one more time. This time she wants her to find a missing fiance. Spoiler in ROT13: Lbh pna'g gryy zr gung Zvff Znecyr jbhyq pbaqbar zheqre...V qba'g pner jung gur cebibpngvba. Naq, orfvqrf, pbhyqa'g Qbyyl cyrnq frys-qrsrafr? [one drowned; one hit on head]

First line (1st story): "I wonder, sometimes, if there isn't a concentration of evil in small places."

Last line (last story): They kept their backs to the new beds, brimming with red asters, their green stalks bending gently in the summer breeze, their red petals the colour of blood.

*To decode: Copy and paste coded portion into decoder found at the link.

1 comment:

ShellieJ said...

This looks so fun! I want to read it, thanks for reviewing it. I love the Miss Marple stories.