Marple: Twelve New Mysteries created by Agatha Christie
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Short Stories
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: William Morrow & Company (September 13, 2022)
Length: 384 pages
Author Information: Website
Marple: Twelve New Mysteries is a collection of stories featuring Jane Marple, the much-adored fictional detective created by Agatha Christie, given new life here in this anthology by twelve different contemporary writers. I must confess though, I’m not too familiar with the character or the original stories, but from what I do know I could tell the authors did an admirable job attempting to recreate the overall vibes of the source as well as Christie’s style. Each tale also brought something fresh to the table, perhaps a little of each writer’s personality and perspective.
That being said, not all the stories worked for me. Most did, but only a few were standouts, with the majority being middle-of-the-road or just okay.
Evil in Small Places by Lucy Foley was one of my favorites, and a great opener to this collection. Miss Marple makes a visit to an old friend and winds up having to solve the curious murder of a former singer. I loved the classic feel of this one.
The Second Murder at the Vicarage by Val McDermid was told from the vicar’s point of view and really showcases the effortless genius of Miss Marple as she shows up the local constabulary by figuring out who the murderer is. This was another good one, with subtle humor and charm.
Miss Marple Takes Manhattan by Alyssa Cole takes our protagonist to New York City with her nephew, and maybe it’s the change in setting and some of the more eccentric side characters, but this one did not feel very reminiscent of a Miss Marple story, not to mention there was barely a “mystery” to speak of.
The Unravelling by Natalie Haynes begins with the death of a farm worker, and the mystery is that no one can figure out why the murderer did it. This was one of the more unmemorable stories, with nothing really standing out so I was happy to just move on.
Miss Marple’s Christmas by Ruth Ware was one of the good ones! And no surprise, given this author. In this story, Miss Marple is on the case of some missing pearls, and the mystery appears to pull in a lot of elements from classic detective stories. On top of being one of my favorites, this tale was also the most fun while still staying true to the source material.
The Open Mind by Naomi Alderman follows Miss Marple as she attends a fancy dinner with a group of academics at Oxford. This is another story that fell into the unmemorable pile—serviceable but nothing to write home about.
The Jade Empress by Jean Kwok is another tale that takes our protagonist abroad, this time on a cruise ship to Hong Kong. Unlike Miss Marple Takes Manhattan though, this one retains the classic feel of the Marple stories, and the mystery involving two victims and a family entanglement had a very nostalgic vibe to it.
A Deadly Wedding Day by Dreda Say Mitchell takes place at a wedding reception where a baffling murder has occurred. The highlight of this one was no doubt Miss Bella, and the team up between the two characters.
Murder at the Villa Rosa by Elly Griffiths was a little unconventional, but very clever. In this story, a struggling writer goes to an Italian retreat hoping for some inspiration and meets some interesting guests along the way, including Miss Marple. Definitely one of my favorites as well.
The Murdering Sort by Karen M. McManus is told from the point-of-view of Miss Marple’s great grand niece Nicola, whose friend’s grandfather has just been murdered. Because of the age of the narrator, this one had a charming YA feel to it. Not one of the best stories in this collection, but it had an easy flow and I enjoyed it.
The Mystery of the Acid Soil by Kate Mosse follows Miss Marple as she embarks on a train ride to visit an old friend and instead becomes embroiled in a young woman’s disappearance. While this was another entertaining tale, it also falls into the middle-of-the-road pile.
The Disappearance by Leigh Bardugo was the story I was most excited to read out of this collection, since I love her work. Sadly, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. It stands out as one of the longer and more developed stories, featuring Miss Marple as she investigates the case of a missing person. As the final story of this collection, it also had a unique role to play.
Overall, I have to say Marple: Twelve New Mysteries was an interesting concept, and even though most of the stories here were just average, it was worth it for the few gems that really stood out and made the experience special.