Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side


Agatha Christie. 10 September – 23 September 2009.
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

The 37th installment of The Agatha Christie Collection, The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, sees the return of Miss Marple as the title sleuth. The latest offering has a cunning twist but overall fails to leave a lasting impression.

The early part of the book spends a great deal of time “setting the scene”, but the characters are mostly bland and 2-dimensional. The inevitable murder is a relief, because it means there will at least be some plot movement.

The recurring themes for the investigation are quickly established, the “Lady Shallott” look. Christie wisely avoids dwelling for too long on any character or interview, and instead keeps the investigations brief. Although the characters are mostly quite dull and their accounts repetitive, the swift progression from one to the next prevents you from getting bogged down.

The story comes into its own at the end, with the plot quickening and twists emerging as the body count suddenly soars. The latter parts of the book are much more like the Christie we know and love.

It must be said, while I have criticised the flatness of some characters, it does succeed in making the more memorable ones shine out all the more. The incredibly complex Marina Gregg is unravelled further and further, and the represetation of the TV scene is very well represented from Christie’s quaint era. In particular, Gregg’s frequent marriages and divorces together with showbiz melodrama makes Gregg a wonderfully parodied yet equally original central character.

Also worth mentioning is Miss Marple’s hired help, Miss Knight, who backflips stereotypes of old and young people. Knight is incredibly funny combined with Marple’s sharp wit and refusal to be patronised because she is older.

Disappointing is Dermot Craddock as the lead investigator in the case. Unlike Poirot, where he does the work and has an obligatory sidekick, it is Craddock who does all the investigating in this case, with Miss Marple in something of a supporting role until the end. Notwithstanding Craddock’s own weaknesses – very little is shown of his analysis, thoughts, feelings or turmoil – it does seem a little misleading to class this as a Marple novel. Surely a character so famous of Miss Marple deserved more dialogue and action?

Overall, The Mirror Crack’d is a good read. It’s one of Christie’s shortest, which prevents the flatness of the plot and characters from being too defined. There are some great exchanges, and the solution – though very quickly revealed and forgotten in a rushed ending disproportionate to its importance – will leave you slapping your head for not working it out!


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This entry was posted on September 23, 2009 by in 3 star and tagged .


Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare