Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple, #13

Source: Purchased rating

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernise the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs... In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a 'perfect' crime committed many years before.

“One always has hope for human nature”

Although I'm more of a Poirot groupie, I tried Sleeping Murder and Miss Marple's detective input on for size to see how it went. Better than the one I read with her salivating over rose gardens, it focused on a young couple who moved into a house and needed help solving a mystery, mainly of a memory of a murder that doesn't make sense.

It's not the classic whodunnit with a modern murder, and Miss Marple warns not to stir up the hornet's nest that is the past in the first place. When her advice is ignored, she feels obligated to help avoid future tragedy while old bones are dug up and laid to rest. This extra depth of psychology that sometimes the past is left buried even when it reveals the truth was potent.

It's a slower paced novel that focuses mainly on the couple with Miss Marple simply in the background as a supportive voice, ready to pop up in the end to offer an explanation when the villain is unmasked. I felt more of her personality was shown and she comes across likable in comparison than other stories I've read with her as lead crime-solver.

One thing that worked especially well was the surreal feel while the main viewpoint Gwenda goes from worrying she's losing her mind and questioning reality to being convinced a mystery is genuinely there. It takes awhile to know for sure, which was interesting since there are a few misleads and questions on her parentage and the house they're staying in. It's definitely a mystery that makes the house come alive as a focus point of the story, which adds an almost gothic charm.

The villain isn't impossible to guess, but the point of this mystery is more in the telling and discovering whether than the big reveal.

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“Why the worst women should always attract the best men is something hard to fathom!”

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