I love Agatha Christie books – they’re the perfect comfort read. Accessible and light, but with just enough twists to keep you guessing. I usually much prefer Poirot to Miss Marple, as he’s just somehow cooler, the latter is just occasionally worth keeping an eye on.
A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…
Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitiation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building. Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.
All the plot summaries for all the Agatha Christie’s books sound the same, which isn’t really appropriate. I mean, fair enough, they often have similar components and the tense atmosphere is generally present but each book is very unique. The setting is different and the ingenious denouement has never been replicated in a different book that I know of. I’ve said it before, but once again- even if you’ve read one of her books and didn’t like it, try another. They’re just so different to each other.
Anyway. Usually I dislike Miss Marple for just ambling around asking everybody personal questions which, for some reason, they answer. I don’t understand this. We live in England. People don’t spill out their innermost feelings to people they haven’t known for 25 years, much less to an interfering old lady who sits next to them on a bench. Well, they do to Miss Marple and then she does nothing but nod along while an Inspector later solves the crime, going “Ah yes, yes, I knew that.” Argh.
I bring this up because actually this book isn’t like that, for a change. Miss Marple doesn’t have a whole lot to do with solving the crime (not that she ever does) but at least she doesn’t get in the way either. I do respect that she never does what every other fictional amateur detective does and decides not to inform the police for some unfathomable reason. Instead she’s all “Oh hello, Mr Policeman. This is what I know…” I wish they’d all take a lesson from her!
Thinking about it, there’s no reason They Do It With Mirrors actually needs Miss Marple – the entire plot could continue without more or less. Huh. That’s interesting. There are actually scenes where she’s not present, which doesn’t make sense. Usually these books follow the detective but instead we see scenes where the detective is interviewing the other witnesses. It works just fine but it makes me wonder if this was always intended to be a Miss Marple book.
For me, the most important thing about the book was… I GUESSED THE ENDING. This isn’t particularly a thing in itself, other than that this never happens. I can’t remember the endings of the books I have read and I’m notoriously terrible at predicting even low-budget romantic comedies, so for this to happen pretty much thrilled me. That’s not to say that the ending was predictable or week – it wasn’t. It’s still just as clever as the all the other novels, but clearly this one was on my wavelength!
To conclude, They Do It With Mirrors was full of pleasant surprises – firstly that I guessed the ending but also because Miss Marple was a much more likeable character than she is normally. If you’re looking for a place to start but haven’t taken to Hercule Poirot, this would be a good place to start.