In this Miss Marple mystery, we return to the village of St. Mary Mead. It has been several years since we last saw that little hamlet (back in The Body in the Library), and while many of the characters reappear, Christie actually dwells a great deal on the changes in village life, discussing the modernization of the homes, the appearance of department stores, and the building of The Development on the edge of town.
Although Miss Marple contemplates these things, as well as her own aging, at length, Christie manages to write about these topics in a way that actually propels/provides a setting for the story, rather than dragging it down. Part of the reason may be because Christie/Miss Marple does not necessarily make a judgment as to whether these changes are good or bad. Certainly, they have their disadvantages, at least from Miss Marple’s perspective, but overall she seems to recognize them as a part of life.
The mystery itself must have been buried somewhere within my subconscious, as I’m usually quite bad at mysteries, and this one I knew immediately who the murderer was and why. I’m just not that clever, so must have read this book sometime long ago. Still, despite the fact that the mystery was not at all mysterious, I rather enjoyed seeing the clues and red herrings for what they really were as the story progressed. It also allowed me to relax and enjoy some of the old faces (especially Mrs. Bantry, although the Colonel, sadly, has passed away in the interim).
In the end, beyond the mystery, what I enjoyed about this book is the fact that Miss Marple realizes how although our trappings and technology may change, human nature is ever and always the same. I am a strong believer in this myself (it’s no secret that part of the reason I enjoy Christie’s writing so much is that her worldview so closely follows my own!), and I love the way that as Miss Marple gets to know new people, and people from The Development, she recognizes afresh how we all have the same struggles and complications and desires as humanity ever has.
While this is not, in my opinion, one of Christie’s best works, it is still a good read, and an easy 3/5.
NOTE: This is my first attempt publishing a review on queue instead of live. We will see how it works!!!