Source: Review copy
Publication: 15 September 2022
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.
· 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
This was great fun to read and each of these terrific authors has brought something of their own to this brand new collection of stories about Agatha Christie’s most enduring detective, Miss Jane Marple.
The best of these stories concentrate on Jane Marple’s astute observations of human behaviour – usually formed while knitting her way through endless balls of wool – especially when those being observed remind her of people she has known in her home village of St Mary Mead.
I enjoyed reading these stories, many of which have Jane Marple travelling around the world and quite a few of the selected authors have chosen to put Miss Marple in the company of her nephew, the writer Raymond West, for ease of moving her around the globe. The upshot is that poor Raymond does not always come out of these trips with his character unscathed, which is quite amusing.
There were several stories I really enjoyed and one or two that caused a raised eyebrow. Not all are murders, and where there are, one story in particular seems to me to leave Miss Marple in a morally questionable place which feels rather too contemporary than would perhaps have fitted in with the 1930’s ethos.
I enjoyed those stories from Jean Kwok and Dreda Say Mitchell which brought a multi-cultural dimension to the Jane Marple mystery while keeping the essence of Miss Marple’s detection style intact.
Lucy Foley’s Evil in Small Places is a clever opener, working perfectly as a short story and delivering an excellent mystery with great characters and an unpredictable conclusion that really works. It’s a tightly written short story that admirably captures the quintessential Marple
Val McDermid’s The Second Murder at the Vicarage is both clever and ingenious, utilising the same characters as in the original story and, as in the original, narrated by the vicar. A terrific take on the original creation and hugely enjoyable.
Verdict: There are too many stories here to highlight them all, but this collection of new Miss Marple short stories from a range of our best women contemporary writers is great fun and fantastic to dip into. There is a lovely touch of humour and reassurance in many of these stories. Some work more successfully than others but overall I can see this becoming a very popular Christmas gift in many households.