Wikipedia page on Miss Marple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Marple
I close my eyes and breathe-in the cool, conditioned air around me. I see letters; crimson letters silhouetted against the closed ianthine background. They drop and pile pell-mell on the mackled yellow carpet of creative prompts; and from this disorder a word is born: murder. Of course, murder it is—delicious death. And this very thought of composing an entry on murder leads me smoothly like ballet-feet on a shinning stage to the very topic I want to write about: M for Miss Marple.
I wonder if for those of you who are ardent aficionados of delicious murder mysteries like me, the name of Miss Marple is accompanied by a thrilling sensation in the system. Having read all the Miss Marple mysteries more than once, and even imbibed the television series (starring Joan Hickson), I feel that indeed this elderly spinster-detective is an inspiration for women in general, and creative writers in particular. This frail, wrinkled, wool-clad maiden armed with an astute brain has solved some of the most convoluted mysteries that Agatha Christie could ever mother proving that age-drooped trees are also capable of bearing fruit. Despite being branded a “nosy pussy,” this old woman has shown time and again in all the mysteries that she appears in that when it comes to intelligence and observation, she is above average. I especially remember the The Thirteen Problems where Miss Marple proves the keenest of brains wrong by solving all the thirteen mysteries that appear in the stories. Her triumph is the triumph of the female sex often thrown into the box containing adjectives like “weak,” “stupid,” et cetera.
However, my most favorite Miss Marple mystery is not the aforementioned collection of short stories, but the novel A Murder is Announced. So delicious is the plot of A Murder is Announced and so shrewd is Miss Marple’s acumen therein that I am convinced that this story is unequivocally one of Agatha Christie’s masterpieces. Of course, with Agatha Christie you can never touch the nub and say “this is her best work”— still, among the detective novels she prolifically composed, A Murder is Announced appears as an unputdownable baffling mystery upon finishing which you will be forced to genuflect before the crumpled, fleece-enmeshed Miss Marple and say “you are a genius, dear lady.”
For me, Miss Marple is a living character— clever and complex, weak and energetic, ruthless and kind— a mixture of all the human elements that make up vivacious characters. She has come out of the pages of the novels she domesticated and now lives in the nest of fond memories of happy reading experiences in our mind. I reckon this is what happens to immortal characters of fiction; overtime they adopt a life of their own independent of the clutches of their creator. And so Miss Marple happily dwells in all of us who live our lives trying to solve those trivial mysteries of a pedestrian existence that are of no importance to the world; and yet, when we hit upon an imaginative solution to those little problems that life presents before us, we cannot but feel happy and proud of the iota of creative ability we possess.
P.S. For me Joan Hickson is the perfect Miss Marple; who is your favorite Miss Marple on television ?