One part of this was uncomfortably dated, but otherwise this was a fun listen. There is somewhat of an epic red herring (I think that’s what we would call it) in this one, and I didn’t see it coming at all. It helps that I really like Emilia Fox as a narrator. The one downside with her is that she flattens out the characters with American accents, but her British characters are superb.
An American film star moves into Miss Marple’s neighborhood (in the very house her friend Dolly Bantry lived in when she found The Body in the Library). At a charity fête at the house in honor of St. John’s Ambulance, a local woman who was not five minutes before gushing to the film star about how excited she was to be there, drops dead of poisoning. It seems clear to everyone that the poor woman was not the intended target. So who among many wants this film star dead?
A big focus at least on the Miss Marple side is Miss Marple musing on the way things change over time, and though how social mores change, human nature never does. A woman named Miss Knight has been foisted on her as a live-in companion, but Miss Marple bristles at her interference. She may be elderly, but she still has a mind, and she desires her freedom of movement. She had briefly met the dead woman, Heather Badcock, some weeks earlier, and can’t resist getting involved in the investigation, especially since her doctor has prescribed her a nice murder to get herself back to herself. She has the assistance of Dolly Bantry, and Detective-Inspector Dermot Craddock, who welcomes her insight.
The one dated thing is spoilery. SPOILERS The film star, Marina, had given birth to a longed-for baby while having German measles during her pregnancy, and the baby is born “an imbecile”. This is how most of the characters refer to him throughout the book. We are meant to criticize Marina for her attitude towards her children, from how she treated her three adopted children (discarding them as soon as she became pregnant with what she saw as her “real” child) but I’m not entirely sure how far we are meant to be judging her about her son. No one in the novel seems disturbed by the way they treat the child after he’s born, acting as if “imbecile” (whatever that means) is the same as being dead. I can’t say I’m exactly surprised by this mentality towards mental disability, but it did take a bit of the fun away that everyone treated this poor kid like such a non-entity END SPOILERS.
Not my favorite Christie or Marple, but not a stinker, either.
“Heather Badcock meant no harm. She never did mean harm, but there is no doubt that people like Heather Badcock (and like my old friend Alison Wilde), are capable of doing a lot of harm because they lack – not kindness, they have kindness – but any real consideration for the way their actions may affect other people. She though always of what an action meant to her, never sparing a thought to what it might mean to somebody else.”