August 27, 2007


Agatha Christie, the mistress of all mysteries (A N Wilson, 27/08/2007, Daily Telegraph)

Since this is the last of the Marple stories, Christie can be quite overt about the extent to which she is writing a redemption myth. Miss Marple is named Nemesis, divine justice, by Rafiel (itself the name of an archangel).

She is charged with bringing justice, with scriptural words, "Let justice roll down like the waters,/And righteousness like an everlasting stream".

The religious convictions of Miss Marple, which in most of the stories is implicit, is here overt. She tells someone, "In my own village, things do rather revolve round the church."

When she goes to stay in the Old Manor, where the three rather sinister (very sinister!) Sisters reside in a palpable atmosphere of evil, she unpacks from her suitcase "a small devotional book which she had been reading".

When Miss Temple the dying pilgrim asks her to find out the truth, Miss Marple replies, "With God's help I will."

When they are sitting around at the end of the story to establish the pardon of the wrongly imprisoned Michael (another angelic name), the Home Secretary says that Miss Marple is "the most frightening woman I ever met", in spite of the pink fluffy shawls and the twittery manner.

She really is nemesis, and is surely a more impressive creation than those old women such as Mrs Moore in the novels of E M Forster, who are somehow meant to carry quasi-mythic weight and hidden wisdom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 27, 2007 6:27 AM

Frightening, yes, and why? Only because she sees the truth about people.

It's interesting to contrast this with the final outing of Hercule Poirot in Curtain... I may have to reread both of those now.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 27, 2007 8:50 AM

Ok, I know I only posted that once. Odd.

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 27, 2007 9:05 AM

I thought 'Sleeping Murder' was the last Marple book.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2007 9:48 AM