Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dear Miss Marple

Miss Marple, 
St Mary Mead, 
C/o Agatha Christie

Dear Miss Marple,

I first met you in The Sleeping Murder. I was blown away at the thought that an old lady had been able to solve a crime that had remained unsolved for 20 years, one that the smartest policemen on the force had failed to solve. 

For a while I made it my life’s ambition to become a great detective like you, one that would effortlessly solve cases without getting her mittens dirty.

Knit, purl, solve crime, knit, purl. 
Without losing a stitch.

But then I changed my mind (I was 14), deciding it was cooler to be a spy than an elderly detective. Besides, I didn’t know how to knit.

While my choice of future profession kept changing, my fondness for you remained. I still admire the way you went about solving murders, even cold cases, by dint of your shrewdness and intelligence, your acute powers of observation, your understanding of human nature and its weaknesses and follies, its strengths and peculiarities, and your ability to see connections where others might see unrelated events.

For a woman who has lived in the same tiny village all her life, you displayed an amazing worldliness that others could learn from. Perhaps it stems from your remarkable ability to observe human nature at work and play and to glean lessons from it.

Most people make the mistake of underestimating you, of assuming that you are fluffy, a harmless old lady, but it’s an image that works in your favour, doesn’t it?

As an elderly spinster, I guess you’re used to people assuming that you are nosy. Your three favourite interests in life, knitting, gardening and gossip, do much to encourage that impression. What criminals fail to realize is that even when you seem occupied with one of these interests, your mind is at work, and that with every stitch, you are putting clues together, solving a crime.

Gardening could also be turned to your advantage for it was “as good as a smoke screen, and the habit of observing birds through powerful glasses can always be turned to account.” As for gossip, “There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”

You made the solving of a crime seem such an easy and genteel occupation as you sat there munching on cakes along with your afternoon tea. But your mind is abuzz, because “Nothing is ever as it seems."

In spite of busying yourself with dreadful things like murders and the ruthlessness of humankind, you remained a kindly person always. At least, from the second story onward. I’m so glad Christie decided to make that change. In the first story, you were a busybody who enjoyed gossip for gossip’s sake.

You were so good that your creator, the great Christie herself once said, “If I were at any time to set out on a career of deceit, it would be of Miss Marple that I should be afraid.”

That’s saying something.


  1. I've never been very familiar with Miss Marple. To be honest, I've never been familiar with Agatha Christie either. But being on a recent episode of Dr.Who has peeked my interest, as does your open letter.

  2. I love this post. As you may remember my mentioning in my blog, I am reading all the Christie books this year. I am almost finished with the Poirot and will move on to Miss Marple. I love how Agatha will make disparaging remarks about female detective novelists.

  3. Jeffrey, you are missing something. Make up for lost time, quick. Two of Christie's novels are in the public domain and available online, so that should be a good start. They don't feature Miss Marple though.

  4. Oh yes, I remember, Denise. Waiting to swap notes on what you think about Miss Marple.

  5. Enjoyed reading this post cynthia...I have not read Agathe christie...Thanks for sharing !!

  6. she is still one of my favourites. I have spent so many days devouring her books. Even I was surprised at first as to how will an elderly woman solve a case. But after the first book, I was hooked.

  7. Agree with you. I loved reading her and would feel bad when we missed the obvious.

  8. There was a time when I was so inspired by her..that I wanted to become a detective! In fact I have some cases written in a small book(Yes!)that my best friend and I had written down and I dug out my cupboard to look for it as I read this!!

    Thanks for some brilliant memories!

  9. Thank you, Genevive, you must read one. She writes murder mysteries but they are so clean.

  10. Oh, yes, Rajlakshmi, apparently Christie never thought Miss Marple would be so popular. Even she was surprised.

  11. I see what you mean. I too would try to act smart and second guess who the killer might be. I'd make sure to suspect everyone, but always it would turn out to be someone I'd missed.
    Glad to know that Agatha Christie achieved that effect with everyone, Janaki.

  12. Same pinch, LittlePrincess, that was my dream too for a while, but I gave it up. I'm so happy to know that my post brought up long ago, happy memories.

  13. I am so ashamed to admit that I haven't read this book which everyone is saying was their favorite! But I am going to check it out soon :)



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