THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MISS JANE MARPLE by Anne Hart

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MISS JANE MARPLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An amusing ""biographical"" tribute to Miss Jane Marple, detective par excellence, the creation of the late Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. As in similar tributes to deathless fictional characters, the author has pounced on all-telling minutiae here, from the 20 Marple short stories (see Mysteries section) and the 12 books in which Miss Marple does her awesome Thing, to round off a portrait of the most deceptively ""frail"" spinster sleuth, immortalized on screen (incorrectly, the author hints) by such as the late Margaret Rutherford. First off, the author supplies a 1935 tour of Miss Marple's hometown, the small village of St. Mary Mead, 20 miles south of London: the ""big houses"" (one sporting a North Lodge, ""an excellent place from which to make anonymous phone calls""); shops; the vicarage (as in Murder at the. . .); the essential Inch's Taxi; the Blue Boar Pub (""a good place to be seen drinking in. . .at the moment a murder was to have taken place""); etc. etc. Over the 40 years of Miss Marple's career, St. Mary Mead had 16 murders. How fortunate to have had Miss Marple on hand! As to the ""finest detective of our time"" (herself), she was born, according to her creator, at the age of 65 to 70, and by Hart's calculations, was still going strong at 106 to 111. And oddly, she grows younger. In the 1930's, she was a Victorian fluff-ball; much later she'll be a decidedly tweedy sort with a velvet toque. Hart unobtrusively (Marple-fashion) notes Marple's domestic artifacts and procedures, takes cognizance of a procession of friends and relations, maids and delivery boys. But the most Hart-felt tribute is saved for Marple's superb detection: her wonderful cover as a ""fluffy old village lady,"" her skill in duplicity, her steely logic, her penchant for collecting facts while counting stitches on amorphous knitted garments, her synthesizing knowledge of human nature, and her ability to lay a trap for a murderer. Then, ""wooly and twittering,"" she was at her most dangerous. A delightful bouquet to Christie's enduring sleuth and a natural companion to the collection of short detective fiction featuring Miss Jane Marple, spinster.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead