“The mirror crack’d from side to side, ‘The curse has come upon me cried the Lady of Shalott.'”
Much has changed in St. Mary Mead since we first met Miss Marple. The village is expanding, and there is a bunch of new development. In fact, the new neighborhoods that are being added are collectively called “The Development” by the original locals. Miss Marple goes for a walk there one day, and takes a spill in front of the Badcock’s house. Heather Badcock helps Miss Marple, and tells her a story about a past encounter with the new owner of Gossington Hall (which one will remember from The Body in the Library).
The new owner is an American actress Marina Gregg and her director husband. They are making a movie nearby, and she wanted a nice quiet place to live. She’s also recuperating from a breakdown after a series of failed marriages and her very poor reaction to the fact that her only child is handicapped (Christie is never quite specific about the nature of the handicap, but the word “imbecile” is used pretty freely). The kid was born that way because Marina came down with German measles when she was pregnant.
Marina throws a big fete at Gossington to benefit the St. John Ambulance, and invites the whole town. Heather Badcock is there, and is invited to a sort of VIP reception because of her involvement with the ambulance. She meets Marina and tells the story of how they met before. Heather has a daquiri (Marina’s favorite), and then she dies of an overdose of a drug called Calmo. Of which there is a lot at Gossington, because of all the high-strung Hollywood types. BUT – was the drink meant for Heather, or was it really meant for Marina?
Everyone moves forward thinking that Marina was the intended victim, since no one really gave much of a crap about Heather. Miss Marple of course gets involved, but because she is forced to mostly stay at home based on doctor’s orders, she mostly helps by reading fan magazines and asking her maid questions about what’s going on outside. The Scotland Yard detective knows her from previous cases, and comes to her cottage to brainstorm. They work together very well, and of course figure out the mystery. It wouldn’t be a Marple book if they didn’t.