Why Miss Marple, thank you so much for returning to us with some delightful new tales! Of course, I'd love to sit down with a cup of tea and scone and listen to them with you. (This collection was an absolute delight.)
True to Character: ★★★ 1/2
The iconic elderly detective from quaint St Mary Mead is back! Well, sort of. A very clever likeness has emerged at any rate.
Marple: Twelve New Stories is a collection that I salivated over the second I knew it was coming. New short stories featuring Britain's favorite female detective? Sign me up!
With a stunning cast of talented authors from a variety of literary backgrounds and tastes, I expected this collection to be a sampling of the familiar and the new. And I was not disappointed.
I think this collection did several things well: it's a nice mix of the refreshingly new and the comforting old, and it varied in type of mystery from murder to more.
As to this collection's weaknesses, I think many of these stories fell into the trap of referencing the established Marple canon too much in their narratives. With such short page counts, any rehashing/referencing/nods to other Marple stories quickly lost their allure when they distracted us from the real plots. We were here for the new, or at least a variation therefore, not for a constant reference to stories that already existed. That might have just been my personal takeaway, but for others who don't care for rehashings it's worth noting.
Some of the standout stories were:
The Jade Empress by Jean Kwok - This refreshingly diverse cruise ride to China was perfect, and I loved it. I fervently wish Miss Marple returns to Asia... Jean Kwok, would you write more??
Murder at the Villa Rosa by Elly Griffiths - Now THIS is the perfect marriage of being meta with your short story while also retaining a lot of originality with a limited page count. Referencing Christie's notorious fatigue with the never-ending demand of her main detectives, adding in a splash of Roger Ackroyd narration, and whipping up a new confection with Miss Marple slyly peeking out from the edges, this story was a true delight to read.
Evil in Small Places by Lucy Foley - Foley is a masterclass in herself, as one of Britain's most recognizable historians and a talented writer in her own right. This was obviously a perfectly characterized rendition of Marple. I don't think it brought anything inventive to the table, but it definitely captured Marple's core the best.
I also want to give an honorable mention to Miss Marple Takes Manhattan by Alyssa Cole, because despite its awkward Raymond/Jean/Marple dynamic—the insistence on Marple's feeble "old person" vibe struck false to me and Marple herself did nothing to showcase her fortitude in retaliation—the New York setting was a fun departure and had room to grow.
I highly recommend the audiobook! Check out the Libro.fm affiliate link below to learn more.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.