A few years prior to the start of the story, Mrs Bantry, a friend of Miss Marple, sold her home, Gossington Hall, in the village of St. Mary Mead. It passed through a number of hands, until it is finally purchased and renovated by the film actress Marina Gregg and her fourth husband, Jason Rudd, another big name in the film industry.
A few weeks after they have moved in, they open up the grounds and certain rooms of Gossington Hall in aid of the St John’s Ambulance. Throughout the day a select few of the guests are invited to take drinks with the famous actress and her husband in the house in an upstairs reception area.
However, whilst the meeting and greeting of the guests is taking place, Marina Gregg, a usually attentive host, becomes distracted, virtually ignoring the woman speaking to her. Instead of paying attention to the woman, a Mrs Heather Badcock, the organiser of the event, her gaze is trained on something over the woman’s shoulder, her expression frozen and fearful. Moments later, Heather Badcock is dead.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the woman was murdered. Poisoned. But why? And by whom? Who could have poisoned the woman in a room full of witnesses who swear they didn’t see a thing? And could she have been murdered by accident, the intended victim being the famous, glamorous Marina Gregg?
Miss Jane Marple can no longer get out much. Old age is catching up with her, and her nephew Raymond has sent her a live-in companion / housekeeper / carer, a very patronising Miss Knight. Frustrated that she can no longer always do the things she used, and constantly irritated by Miss Knight’s presence and manner, Miss Marple focuses on the murder at Gossington Hall to take her mind off her own problems. Although she may be old, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her mental deductions and she still has a great understanding of people and human nature. So, naturally, Miss Marple is the first person to solve the case.
I love reading Christie’s novels. They are so easy to read and get lost in. The title for this one is a line from Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot, which is a favourite poem of mine.
This is quite simply an excellent murder mystery, one that takes its time to unravel as we are taken through the list of suspects. If you have yet to read The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side but love cosy murder mysteries, I highly recommend that you give it a read.