Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Naomi Alderman, Lucy Foley, Ruth Ware, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Elly Griffiths
Published by William Morrow on September 15, 2022
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
This collection of twelve original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.
Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story 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.
I wanted Marple: Twelve New Mysteries as soon as I heard of this anthology of short stories about Jane Marple. It’s kind of like Jane Marple fanfiction by some well-known authors in the genre. I was happy to read stories by some favorite authors and also to try some authors, some of them I’ve wanted to read. I decided to read one story per day so I could enjoy each one.
I buddy read with Lark at The Bookwyrm’s Horde. We tended to look at how well the character Miss Marple seemed true to the original, which did affect some of my ratings. A story might be a delight but not be in keeping with the original Miss Marple at all. Out of necessity, these descriptions will be brief to not spoil.
Evil in Small Places by Lucy Foley 4
Jane Marple visits an old school acquaintance on the way to another place. Of course, there is a murder. Jane is her observant and deductive self. I loved the detailed setting of everything and the cleverness of Jane. I’m a big fan of this author.
The Second Murder at the Vicarage by Val McDermid 4.5
Jane apparently lives next door to the vicarage. When a body turns up, she knows what is important to find. The story is from the vicar’s point of view and hilarious. I wanted to read this author but had not before now.
Miss Marple Takes Manhattan by Alyssa Cole 3.5
Jane goes with her nephew Raymond to New York to see one of stories put on as a play. There are interesting aspects of how racism and classes are in England vs. the United States. There is also the topic of communism and the blacklists, which was another form of prejudice. I have read this author previously.
The Unraveling by Natalie Haynes 4
Jane’s neighbor, Susan, was a hoot as she tried to get all the “gossip” she knows Jane has. I liked being back in small town England and the activities suitable to this time.
Miss Marple’s Christmas by Ruth Ware 5
The author nailed the Christie style and Miss Marple characterization. It made this holiday story so much fun! One of the guests is reading a Dorothy Sayer book which would be fitting for the time period. I have enjoyed this author previously.
The Open Mind by Naomi Alderman 3
The academic setting didn’t feel very much like a Miss Marple story. Although she is observant and knowledgeable about human nature, she might not know all the rules of academia. The whole aspect of trying to prove a historical point seemed more technical and less people-oriented than the way Miss Marple usually works.
The Jade Empress by Jean Kwok 4
Jane takes a trip to Hong Kong by way of a cruise. She meets an older man traveling with his sister and daughter, to see his son after many years. Jane is her usual observant and perceptive self. The time period of the 1970s along with her waltzing and doing Tai Chi didn’t work for me since if she was 70ish in the 1950s, she would be 90ish at this point. I enjoyed the story anyway. It seemed typical of Miss Marple to give the information to the authorities and let them handle things in their own time.
A Deadly Wedding Day by Dreda Say Mitchell 4
There were some mixed things here. I really enjoyed Miss Marple having a friend Miss Bella and how they worked the “case” together. It showed Miss Marple being open to diversity, and she was more so than other Christie characters. Miss Bella’s niece, the bride Marie, was disingenuous which felt uncomfortable. The overall style with a reveal to a group at the end felt much more like Poirot than Marple.
Murder at the Villa Rosa by Elly Griffiths 3
I really enjoy this author but I found the plot here, after the twist, not believable. The twist didn’t feel clever, just made it a not very interesting story. Miss Marple’s part did seem realistic since there was an author and her nephew, Raymond is an author, so she might easily have ideas with her grasp of human nature.
The Murdering Sort by Karen M. McManus 4.5
Miss Marple was very much in character here with her knowledge of human nature even when she wasn’t there when the murder happened. I liked seeing her with one of Raymond’s grandchildren, Nicola. It was hilarious how Nicola was shocked by how Miss Marple knew things. It’s always nice when she can help the police.
The Mystery of the Acid Soil by Kate Mosse 4
This story seemed to me to be set earlier in time perhaps now long after the war. Miss Marple was her usual astute self gathering bits and pieces and putting them together. She actually made an effort to visit a few people for more information. Her reason for that made sense.
The Disappearance by Leigh Bardugo 4
I loved how Miss Marple sized everyone up and taking their measure from talking to people or asking people about those missing or dead. I was a little surprised at the solution but of course, no one can hoodwink Miss Marple!
Overall I love the idea and the execution of this anthology. I hope there will be another one.
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