A bold, clever murder spirals into desperate measures.
A clever Agatha Christie that’s lamentably too short, The Mirror Crack’d is almost like two stories. One is the classic mystery and the other is a dissertation of sorts on growing old, especially after WWII.
Set closer to the 1950s, Miss Marple is far less mobile and relies on the help of the annoyingly kind Mrs. Knight. Mary St. Mead is modernising, but not always for the better, as the townhouse style development shows. Like the last Poirot case, Miss Marple is definitely struggling with the physical indignities of growing old while her mind is still razor sharp.
The mystery itself is extremely clever, a classic Christie, where golden age Hollywood meets 1950s England. An innocent woman is poisoned by mistake when a beautiful, tragic actress was the intended victim. Who tried to kill Marina – her apparently devoted husband? The cool young secretary almost certainly in love with the husband? Or one of a slew of jilted lovers, ex-husbands or cast-off children?
This wasn’t my favourite book by Christie. My main complaint is how short it is – we don’t get as much chance to really dig into motives and personalities. The stakes could’ve been raised and the characters better explored with more length.
But there’s always the brilliant puzzle, so painfully obvious in retrospect, to buoy an otherwise decent read.