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Marple: Twelve New Mysteries    by Agatha Christie & et al order for
by Agatha Christie
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Agatha Christie lives! Well, at least there are some new Miss Marple stories, not exactly written by Dame Christie, but some readers might be fooled. Twelve new mysteries in the style of Agatha Christie are collected in Marple, with authors such as Val McDermid, Leigh Bardugo, Lucy Foley, and Karen M. McManus doing a wonderful job of showcasing Miss Jane Marple, little old spinster lady that she is, as she figures out who the bad guys are just by using her powers of observation.

Her intuition frequently makes her suspect that some answers to her probing questions arenít entirely truthful. Itís dangerous to believe that this old person who seems so meek isnít capable of noticing the smallest, seemingly unimportant item or detail. Many of the stories in this collection take place in her small town of St. Mary Mead, and it is surprising that so much evil seems to occur right in her own back yard. However, many of the stories take place in other locales.

In the first story, Evil in Small Places by Lucy Foley, Jane observes, 'I wonder sometimes, if there isn't a concentration of evil in small places,' as she and an old friend are about to make their way to choir practice in the friend's small town of Meon Maltravers. She is told about the new choir mistress, who isn't popular in the choir, and who turns up dead just as the two ladies arrive. Jane solves this crime with the help of an object that she found on the ground. Her knowledge of, and keen observation of human nature, as she questions, listens, and observes the various choir members convince her of the truth.

In Elly Griffiths' Murder at the Villa Rosa, we are told right at the beginning as the murderer makes his way to the Villa Rosa in Italy that he intends to do away with Ricky. We then meet an assorted group of tourists, including Miss Marple, who are enjoying their vacation at this lovely locale. Jane sits and knits and chats with her fellow vacationers, listening intently to all of their conversations and solves the riddle.

The Mystery of the Acid Soil by Kate Mosse reveals Jane's knowledge of plants and gardening. More than one murder has taken place in this story, where she is back in her own St. Mary Mead. In this, as in the others, she exhibits amazing bravery in her attempts to find out what really happened. She thinks nothing of asking questions of any and all who might help her to solve the crimes.

These stories are so much fun to read. Some have hints of modern social problems, and Christie's feminism shines through, but they never stray from their purported time periods. I particularly loved the way the authors captured her writing style in her descriptions, such as, 'Mrs. Weaver was a handsome woman with long, dark hair plaited and pinned tight. Her bright blue eyes glinted with suspicion...'.

Another character is described as, 'Cooper was wearing a very white shirt with a red tie, and the same loud checked trousers she remembered from the day before. His eyes looked slightly bloodshot. He did not, in her opinion, look like a grieving widower.' Thus did Jane begin her appraisals, but additionally, after this description, we're told, 'His words were genial enough, but, instinctively, Miss Marple did not think he was a man to be trusted.'

I believe that any fan of Agatha Christie's stories will enjoy this collection. As I was reading, I sometimes forgot that they weren't actually written by her, and I savored each one. It's always a joy for me to read about an old woman who bests those younger and better educated. We old women have to stick together.

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