The mirror crack'd

by Agatha Christie

Hardcover, 1963

Call number





Dodd, Mead (1963), Edition: [Book Club ed.], 246 pages


One minute, silly Heather Babcock had been babbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure, poisoned by a deadly cocktail. It seems likely that the cocktail was intended for the beautiful actress. But while the police fumble to find clues, Miss Marple begins to ask her own questions, because as she knows-even the most peaceful village can hide dark secrets.

User reviews

LibraryThing member eilonwy_anne
Charming. Miss Marple's very relatable struggle with change adds something poignant and very real to this otherwise simply clever mystery. Which is not to downplay the mystery. Christie is the grande dame for a reason. Here she twists a good little plot. One trait of a good mystery: even if you
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figure it out long before the sleuth, you don't wish it would hurry or denigrate the sleuth's abilities. I enjoyed this one to the last drop.
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LibraryThing member JulesJones
This one's interesting not just for the murder mystery itself, but because it was written in 1962 and Miss Marple is feeling the passage of time. Change has come to St Mary Mead, with the advent of the Development, a new housing estate. Change has come to the social structure, with the slow
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disappearance of household servants, and the appearance of supermarkets. And age is affecting Miss Marple, who is old enough to need some personal care after an illness, but is not the completely dependent and mindless old lady her home nurse insists on treating her as. Her doctor and old friend prescribes some unravelling of knitting for her. He's not just referring to her knitting, and soon Miss Marple has the opportunity to unravel a murder. Her friend Mrs Bantry sold Gossington Hall some years earlier after the death of the Colonel, and after several changes of ownership and some unfortunate attention from developers it has now been sold to a Hollywood film star, who has restored it to a private home. Marina Gregg intends to take part in village life, and this includes hosting a public fund-raising event in the grounds for charity, and inviting various village notables to a private reception to view the refurbishments. As the former owner of the house, Mrs Bantry is an honoured guest -- which puts her in a prime position to view events at the reception that in hindsight were a prelude to a murder.

This was one where I spotted who and part of why pretty much at the point of the murder -- but the misdirection was so good that I wasn't sure until almost the very end, even though the rest of why had been laid out quite clearly part way through the book, if you know what to look for. It's a great read that kept me turning the pages, although it has a more melancholy feel to it than the earlier Marples. Christie has written a superb portrayal of an old woman who recognises that change isn't necessarily all bad, but nevertheless feels discomfited by it even as she does her best to embrace the good aspects. And the ultimate motivation for the murder is heartbreaking, all the more so because it appears to have been based on a real life incident.
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LibraryThing member Figgles
A classic Miss Marple. An aging Miss Marple is fretting under the care of a live in help. When an unassuming local woman is poisoned a the local fete her Dr. recommends that she takes up "unravelling" rather than knitting. Though St Mary Meade is changing - a new housing estate and a film star
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installed in Gossington Hall, Miss Marple finds that human nature is just the same. I recently found out that the premise behind the motive is supposedly based on something that really happened to movie star Gene Tierney - don't look it up unless you have read the book!
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LibraryThing member archerygirl
A lovely Miss Marple that has the regulation dose of old English houses, suspicious characters, old grudges and little old ladies investigating murders. This one is also a little more down than some of them, with Miss Marple's age telling on her so that her nephew employs a live-in carer for her
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and St. Mary's Mead enduring the changes that the construction of a new housing estate bring. Miss Marple's doctor prescibes a nice murder to cheer her up, which has luckily just happened at the village fete, and the wonderful network of friends and old servants scattered through the village come to her aid bringing gossip and information. Gentle, uplifting and perfect for a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea.
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LibraryThing member isabelx
As well as reading "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side" , I've also seen two or three different versions on TV (including the film with Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak as the warring actresses). It's a good story, and comes as a surprise when you realise whydunnit.
LibraryThing member Condorena
I haves watched at least two TV or movie versions of this book. The book continues to surpass the adaptations. It is a version of murders in a country house but even though it is a classic mystery the clues are not all clearly set before the reader at one time, rather like the unveiling of Salome
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and her seven veils, the picture slowly comes into focus as Miss Marple peers though all the distractions and red herrings to see the solid core of the mystery.

I liked the Joan Hickson version of the story but I always wish they would give the poor woman more than one hat. I really don't believe she would wear the same hat to garden in that she wears to church and other social events. It is a subtle way to dumb her down and give the viewer a distorted vision of Miss Marple a person who bumbles into the answers rather than using her very acute mind.
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LibraryThing member bsquaredinoz
This book returns to what seems to be a theme for Agatha Christie as it features an actress as a key character. Here actress Marina Gregg has taken up residence at Gossington Hall near St Mary Mead, home of the inquisitive Miss Marple. Gregg and her husband, who is a film director, host a fête for
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a charitable cause and during the event a select group of people is chosen to meet the movie star. One of these visitors, Heather Badcock, dies soon after meeting Gregg and recounting the story of their previous meeting a dozen or so years earlier when Badcock rose from her sick bed to meet the star and get her autograph. When it is revealed Badcock was poisoned it is assumed that Gregg was the real intended victim and Badcock died by accident.

Published in 1962 this is one of Christie’s later novels and does address quite well the social changes that are taking place in rural England at the time. There is a new housing development on the outskirts of St Mary Mead which is changing the place’s character and contributing to Miss Marple’s sense that she’s losing touch with things. Miss Marple is also more elderly than ever. She even has to submit to the indignity of a full-time live-in companion; a very annoying woman who treats Miss Marple like she is a stupid child. I think Christie has done a really terrific job of capturing the frustration experienced by someone who is aging but is in full command of their mental faculties even if their physical abilities aren’t what they used to be.

However the plot here is not one of Christie’s best. The first half of the book labours several points too often, including the actress’ nervous state and the link to the book’s title (it’s a line from a Tennyson poem called the Lady of Shalott which must have been repeated at least a half-dozen times). There is one too many amazing coincidences revealed at the end. One of these is believable (in fact the book is based on something that happened to actress Gene Tierney but don’t google it unless you don’t mind spoilers) but the second is overkill (and totally unnecessary as it adds nothing to the story whatsoever). I also found the depiction of the policeman called in to investigate the crime to be quite unrealistic (although he’s very sweet to Miss Marple).

To be honest I’ve always preferred Hercule Poirot over Miss Marple so my reaction to this book is not that surprising. While Poirot is far too clever to be real and would undoubtedly be an insufferable chap to spend any time with at least he is depicted with faults whereas Jane Marple has always struck me as impossibly perfect. And the Poirot plots are the more puzzling, clue-based ones that fit with my preference for logic whereas those featuring Miss Marple tend to be based more on what seem to me to be rather wild and random assumptions about human nature.

Also, sadly, I did not enjoy Hickson’s narration. She seemed to swallow her words and fade away as if she was turning from the microphone and I read to rewind several times to catch what she was saying and she really didn’t seem to be paying that much attention to what she was saying. So if you are going to track down this book I wouldn’t recommend this particular audio version.
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LibraryThing member smik
THE MIRROR CRACK'D is an interesting novel from a number of points of view. It is of course probably one of Agatha Christie's better known stories, not the least because it has been filmed at least twice.

First of all, a couple of decades have passed since THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY which occurred in
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palatial home, Gossington Hall, of Colonel and Dolly Bantry, friends of a much younger Jane Marple. Miss Marple is now quite elderly, a bit down in the dumps, and a bit house bound.
Colonel Bantry has been long dead, Dolly has been tripping around the world visiting her grown up children and grandchildren, and her former home has been sold several times. Now it has become the home of stage and TV star Marina Gregg.

St. Mary Mead has changed too. The original village has expanded, and pressure for cheaper housing for the post war generation has led to new housing estates like the Development. The first few pages of the novel show Agatha Christie as a keen observer of social and economic trends as she describes how life has changed in the village. At the beginning of the novel Miss Marple escapes her minder (she now has to have a live-in carer) and takes herself for a walk at the Development. She trips and falls on the footpath and is kindly taken in for a cup of tea by Heather Badcock.

And then Marina Gregg throws a meeting at Gossington Hall for locals who will be involved in the arrangements for the fete in aid of the St. John Ambulance in the grounds. Dolly Bantry is not part of the committee but has been asked to afternoon tea before the meeting, which gives her a good chance to see what changes have been made since she was the owner. Miss Marple is not one of the guests and so Dolly is our eyes and ears. The attendees are rather like a who's who of St Mary Mead.

In the following chapter the fete gives all the locals including those who live in " the Development" the chance to view the opulence at Gossington Hall and so it is well attended. Marina Gregg comes face to face with Heather Badcock, whom she doesn't remember at all, until Heather supplies some details that bring the past flooding back to Marina. Once again, in Miss Marple's absence, we see things from Dolly Bantry's POV. Heather Badcock is taken ill and dies.

Enter Miss Marple. Dolly goes to visit her friend the very next day but Miss Marple already has the news from her daily help Cherry.

This is really a beautifully plotted novel, with threads and characters that not only link it to other Miss Marple stories, but extend right through the novel. Miss Marple does her sleuthing through the eyes of others and sits at home doing what her doctor calls "unravelling." In fact there are a further four novels in the series to come so Miss Marple is far from finished, despite her lack of mobility in this novel.
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LibraryThing member Jiraiya
I had to prevent myself from lying to me here. I wanted to convince me that this was a very memorable Marple mystery. I've seen the high scores given at goodreads by the reviewers. It was very nice, but not a juicy mystery. Finally, The author was, posthumously, giving me what I was clamoring for;
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more Marple. But the mystery-which I solved- was not vintage Christie.

How bad was it? It was ordinary fare, and I'm not even proud that I solved it. It doesn't sound like a real classic. Halfway through the book, I caught myself thinking whether it was going to be one of those books that was going to fall flat on its face having deceived no one. I've been recently reading Miss Marple books chronologically, and with each passing book the author never fails to enthuse how older her heroine was now. This was the case here. There was mention of most of her old faithful servants dying. There are other signs in Mary St Mead of the passage of time.

Firstly there was the building of the development area, where modern houses and offices cater to the newly arrived. The author allows Miss Marple to venture around this location but typically uses the setting to further her ends by making Marple meet the first future victim of the book, Mrs Badcock. Very unfortunate name. What is surprising is that Mr Badcock's surname is not an ancient family name, but chosen by the latter when, in the past, leaving America for England. How the hell can someone choose the name Badcock on purpose? Think of the children, people.

Secondly, the transfer of ownership of Gossington Hall, which was the setting for a previous Marple story, also marks the passage of time. This once, the new owner is Marina Gregg, around whom the mystery is spun. The supporting cast of her household is not as detailed as in the classics. Everything is rushed. The mystery doesn't have enough going on. There are feeble attempts at misdirection. I picked my murderer's identity early on and never wavered until a little twist at the end. But my assumption was correct. I shouldn't have doubted myself.
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LibraryThing member RubyScarlett
Very enjoyable book with real depth of character - Christie really hit the nail on the head with her portrait of actresses and her take on fame is surprisingly relevant today. I was very moved by the story especially since the mystery is coupled with Marple's slow deterioration. Christie used the
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same kind of phasing out for Poirot so when the end came it wasn't that surprising and I can see she's doing it here. Not only is Marple compelled to keep up-to-date with celebrity gossip she cares nothing for (though she has a good grasp of human nature) to keep up with a changing world but her health is also declining. Reaching this point makes me really sad for it's a moment when Christie mentions things which just don't exist anymore and which I'd learned to expect - throughout the novel there's a discussion about the role of the parlourmaid, the younger generation not knowing what kind of profession that is and the older mourning how useful it was to have one about. Tennyson is of course mentioned a few times, as is Marple's Victorian prudishness. I really liked this book - I find that the Marple books are a lot more about psychology than they are about puzzles (the identity of the murderer here is unsurprising). I look forward to the last few books.
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LibraryThing member crashmyparty
The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side is my first Miss Marple mystery, despite having read many Poirot, a Tommy and Tuppence, a Harley Quin and a few standalones. By this stage of the books, Miss Marple is getting on a bit in years and clearly not as able as she used to be, but still sharp in
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mind, as she solves the mystery, more or less, from her chair. My first impression is that she is tough as nails and insightful into people and of course, human nature. It’s this insight, more than your average person has, that helps her solve many a mystery.

Miss Marple is living in changing times. In her village there has cropped up a new ‘Development’ (makes me think of the new estate in my beloved country town), mostly inhabited by young couples. Things just aren’t the same as they used to be. There’s a film star living in Gossington Hall, and this is where the trouble starts. At a fete at the hall, Heather Badcock from the Development is excitedly talking to Marina Gregg, the film star. A few minutes later she takes a sip of her drink and dies. When it becomes apparent that the drink was meant for Miss Gregg, and more people start dying, it is of course up to Miss Marple to find the murderer. As her caretaker Miss Knight hardly lets her leave the house, Miss Marple must rely on Detective-Inspector Craddock, the gossip of the village and it’s new Development and a stack of magazines to help her with this case.

Dame Christie’s story building can seem quite slow, particularly if you’ve never read any of her mysteries before. But I find her writing interesting and I like the way it builds. She is giving the reader a chance to work it out for themselves and she sets the scene quite nicely. You feel like you understand what’s going on in the village, no matter how far removed it seems from our time today. The villages of the quaint English countryside are very clear in my mind and I would love to visit one day! It always surprises me how much murder goes on there though, but there is always a reason and always a Miss Marple or a Poirot to work it out. And it’s so entertaining for us readers as we struggle to work out who and why. I have always enjoyed Christie’s writing, since my first read of her mysteries, and I am yet to meet one that I don’t enjoy.
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LibraryThing member antiquary
The low rating is unfair, in a way. The mystery is quite competently written, and was made into a quite competent film. But I just feel too much sadness at the murderer's motive. (Spoiler warning). A pregnant actress loses her unborn child because a silly vain girl insists on meeting and shaking
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hands with her when ill and infects her. Years later, the actress finds out who was responsible for the loss of her child and kills her.
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LibraryThing member olegalCA
I'm going back and rereading my old favourites. I own every Agatha Christie title (hard work done in used bookstores by my parents and I) and I think it will be fun to just pick one up every so often and read it. Most of the time I forget "who dun it".
LibraryThing member BrokenTune
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side - has always been one of my favourite Marple stories because in this one the background is rather sad and the murder is fuelled by somewhat different motivations than most other Christie mysteries.

It's even more impressive to think that the story was partly
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inspired by a true story Gene Tierney's biography
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LibraryThing member riverwillow
Miss Marple is on the case when Heather Babcock is murdered at Marina Gregg's home. Was Marina the intended victim? And who or what was it Marina saw on the stairs just before Heather died? Miss Marple, with the help of old and new friends, solves the mystery. I enjoyed reading this, but its a
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fairly average Miss Marple, although the motive for the murder is very unusual and emotive.
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LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Audiobook performed by Emilia Fox.

Miss Marple is showing her age and the doctor insists that she have a nursemaid/companion. But she’s really not so frail as people think, and she can still out-detect the most experienced Scotland Yard inspector. When a local woman is dies during a large charity
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event at an estate now owned by Hollywood actress Marina Gregg and her latest husband (is he # 4 or # 5?) authorities discover that the cocktail she drank was doctored. But who would want to kill Mrs Badcock? It appears this was a terrible accident, but that the lethal dose was meant for Marina Gregg.

Christie really kept me guessing on this one. There are plenty of suspects, and lots of red herrings. Miss Marple is at her best in using her knowledge of human behavior and deducing the truth. I did pick up on that final clue, but was at a loss right up to that. I also really enjoyed the subplot of Miss Marple’s need for a companion.

Emilia Fox did a superb job narrating the audiobook. She was able to give the many characters unique voices, although her deep, gravelly voice for some of the male characters was a little over-the-top.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
This novel is set in the small village of St Mary Mead, home of the legendary Miss Marple. She is becoming quite elderly, but she and her friends take a lively interest in everything that goes on around them.

Most of the story a large stately home which has been bought by a film star and her fifth
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husband. Within a few chapters, most of the cast gather at a large garden fete where the inevitable murder takes place. I didn’t guess the perpetrator or the motive until about a paragraph before all was revealed.

Agatha Christie was very skilled at plotting, and this book is no exception. I generally feel that her characterisation is less well developed; however, in this book I was quite drawn to Miss Marple, and a few other characters too.

My one gripe about this book is the unpleasant language used to describe a child born with a serious mental handicap. Some of the attitudes of the times are shocking; yet the book was published less than sixty years ago.

That aside, I thought this book a great example of Agatha Christie’s work.
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LibraryThing member MarcusBastos
Be Aware of the Details
The village of St Mary Mead experienced a growth (a development): new inhabitants, new houses, new shops. A famous artist arrived and settled in. In the fete given in her new house a woman is murdered. Miss Jane Marple considered the matter. The work of the Scotland Yard and
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the wisdom of Miss Marple are required to solve the puzzle. As is always the case, the solution depends in careful consideration of the facts. The novel presents Jane Marple in a colorful way with the total display of her grace. Another worth reading of Agatha Christie.
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LibraryThing member Bruce_McNair
Miss Jane Marple has a reputation for solving murders in her home town, St Mary Mead. In fact, her friends consult with her, and her nephew, who is a Detective Chief Inspector, believes she can help him to solve the latest murder in the town. But then the deaths mount like an episode of Midsomer
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Murders. Miss Marple is constrained by her over-officious housemate but still manages to hear the gossip going around the village. Eventually, she manages to escape the confines of her own home to visit the scene of the first death where she manages to solve the case. In my opinion, this was an entertaining read. I gave it 4 stars out of 5.
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LibraryThing member jshillingford
Still working my way through Miss Marple when I got to this one. This one was interesting because I didn’t think the mystery was particularly good, but I loved all the time spent with Miss Marple and expanding her world. St. Mary Mead has a new housing development, and life has changed
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The mystery takes place at Gossington Hall where “The Body in the Library” was found. The mansion is no longer owned by Mrs. Bantry, now a widow, but she appears in this story as a main character once more. Heather Badcock is poisoned by a cocktail while attending a party thrown by the actress Marina Gregg. The glass was Marina’s – the intended target. But, who would want to kill her? Though the resolution was clever, I just didn’t care about this case as I did others. Too much time was spent telling readers how high-strung Marina is; how her mental health is frail due to being an actress; how turbulent and scandal-laden the film industry is. Meh. However, the character and world building was a welcome surprise.

Miss Marple appeared in twelve novels, but this was the first to really make me feel as if it were a series, and that time had passed. There are more references to past cases, and recurring characters appear again, albeit older: her godson, Detective-Inspector Craddock, Dr. Haydock and Mrs. Bantry among them. Even the village has changed, with a new housing development and new people. Miss Marple now has a live-in helper provided by her nephew. Miss Knight irritates Miss Marple, who is struggling with failing eyesight, no longer being able to garden, and her own frailty. A spicy murder mystery to occupy her mind is literally just what the Doctor ordered!

Overall, I didn’t think this was a good as other Marple mysteries, but I enjoyed it anyway.
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LibraryThing member TomDonaghey
The Mirror Cracked (1962) (Miss Marple #9) by Agatha Christie. Changes have occurred since our last visit to the quiet village of St. Mary Mead. A large estate has been sold to “those Hollywood people”, there is a new housing development with an influx of middle class peoples, new shops, a
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supermarket, there is a nearby film studio now and many other alterations to our small town.
Thank goodness for Miss Marple and the nature of people, those two things stay steadfast in their natures.
Actress Marina Gregg an her husband have purchased Gossington Hall (made infamous in The Body In The Library), renovated it and have now thrown it open to the public for a fete to celebrate. A woman from the development that, by accident, Miss Marple met, a Mrs. Badcock, attends the festivities and, mere moments after meeting the celebrity, falls down dead.
The thought is that Ms. Gregg was the intended target so Chief Inspector Craddock (welcome back and congratulations on the promotion) is back on the case trying to suss out the truth. As in all Christie books, the truth is a most elusive thing, not to be found until a few more bodies appear, Miss Marple has some heart to heart chats with a dozen concerned citizens and the police have followed wrong leads aplenty.
A good strong story and will have you wondering oil the end.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie features Miss Jane Marple and is set in the fictional village of St. Mary Mead. While Miss Marple is mostly at home recovering from a recent illness, she nevertheless plays an important role in solving the murder of a local woman that
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happened during a village fete at a movie star’s home. It is quickly deducted that the poisoned drink was intended for Marina Gregg, the aforementioned movie star. And while Miss Marple is quite elderly, there is nothing wrong with her mental deductions or her knowledge of human behavior. As is so often the case, one murder is followed by more, but with Miss Marple on the case, all too soon the answers are revealed.

Although The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side was not my favorite Miss Marple, it is still a solid mystery with a large cast of characters and plenty of backstories to explore. Reading about the aging Miss Marple and her constant battle to be independent as well as the author’s comments on life in post-WW II Britain helped to enhance the book.
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LibraryThing member MickyFine
Miss Marple is slightly alarmed by all the changes in her beloved St. Mary Mead with new Development on the edge of the village. She's also irritated with herself for some of the limitations her age has brought into her life. However, her mind remains as sharp as ever and when one of the new
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residents of the village dies suddenly at a fete hosted by some Hollywood people at the local large estate, Miss Marple can't help but try and determine why the murder happened.

It's delightful to return to St. Mary Mead in this entry in the series, to get a sense that time has passed in Miss Marple's world, and to see a well-drawn depiction of the challenges of an aging body not quite being able to keep up with the keen mind within. As always, the mystery is well-drawn and while I picked out bits of the clues that I thought would matter, I didn't quite manage to put the mystery together before Miss Marple's final reveal. Recommended as ever.
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LibraryThing member Black-Lilly
Liked the premise and the conclusion but sonething was missing, maybe not enough sleuthing by dear old Miss Marple herself. The end felt a bit rushed and other than normal, the explenation of the "whodunnit" part was a bit of a let down mostly because of the rushed feeling.
LibraryThing member forsanolim
This book is later in the Miss Marple series than the other books I've read, and there are clear changes taking place in St. Mary Mead. There's a new housing development that's popped up in town, Gossington Hall, the manor on which The Body in the Library was focused, has been sold to a movie star
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and her (fourth or so) husband. The villagers of St. Mary Mead are invited to visit Gossington and observe its renovation. During the visit party, Heather Badcock is absolutely thrilled to meet Marina Gregg, her movie-star idol, but immediately after sipping a martini she falls over dead. It's clear that she was poisoned, but everyone agrees that Heather Badcock had no enemies - why would she have been killed?

As always, this was a lot of fun. It's always enjoyable to see how the pieces come together.
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