The Mirror Crack’d Side to Side by Agatha Christie fulfilled the “Book with Featuring an Amateur Detective” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. Man, I love an Agatha Christie. Miss Marple was our sleuth in this tale. Not my favorite by the author but a steady example of the genre.
Ms. Christie published the novel in 1962, aging our heroine, Miss Marple, appropriately. Our plucky detective can no longer run around as she did in days of old. She’s almost housebound and is forbidden to garden. It was hard to read the story without her out with her flowers. Though in her dotage, Miss Marple’s mind is as sharp as ever. She hears about a murder in a great house not too far from her own and investigates. (Actually, the local detective gives her a consult and her doctor encourages the man to include Miss Marple in the investigation. Good for her mind, he says, and he’s not wrong.)
I found the novel a little…what’s the word…stretched? I love Miss Marple and Agatha Christie books. (I’ve mentioned my mission to read all her stories.) But I was distracted as I read the tale. I think it was the title. It comes from a Lord Tennyson poem, The Lady of Shalott. I’m not familiar with it and even reading the book, I still don’t get why that’s the title. The odd word with the odd apostrophe thrown in there never felt resolved for me. Maybe I missed something. (I do, many times, huh?) But since the title never gave me a clue, I never felt I liked the answer to the mystery. Not spoiling here, but usually, her titles give you a hint. Perhaps it’s an education thing or a generational thing. After researching a bit, I can see how the title spoils the whole book. I won’t tell secrets here but…
Anyway, what more can I say about a great author writing another of her amazing books late in her life? Not every one of her stories knocks my socks off, but there’s a method to them (to paraphrase Poirot). Ms. Christie spills out clues in subtle splashes, sometimes drips so tiny, we miss them. She never needs violence, bloodshed, or graphic sex to get the story across. Some criticize her for the oddities of Poirot or the helplessness of Miss Marple, but that’s what makes the tales great. I know what I’m getting with these characters and what to expect in the structure. Even with the repetitiveness of using these two detectives, each book has a good mystery with subtle clues and great red herrings.
I plan to continue my quest to read all of her books by year-end. Wish me luck!
I give The Mirror Crack’d Side to Side four daiquiris. (Read the novel and you’ll know why.)