I can't believe I've gone almost 5 years without posting about some of my favorite mystery detectives. The fact that I've skipped them for so long, shames me to the core How can I say I'm a mystery lover, and not share my love of some of the greatest detectives ever dreamed up. So I'm going to rectify that this month. And a month that celebrates detectives can't start off on the wrong foot. It needs to start with the Queen of mystery fiction, Agatha Christie, and her lovable spinster detective, Miss Marple.
Much like Jessica Fletcher, no matter how much I love Jane Marple, I'm pretty sure I would not want to be her neighbor. Cabot Cove and St. Mary Mead, the village Miss Marple lives in, have to be two of the deadliest places to live. The towns are so small, that I would have to see what the mortality rates would be, compared to their respective populations. So while I may go visit her for a nice cuppa and good conversation, I don't want to live within a hundred miles of her.
However, if I was ever murdered, or suspected of killing someone else, I would defiantly want her around. I would dare say that she rivals Sherlock Holmes in her ability to notice what's going on around her. She is a student of the human behavior, and not much passes her by. She can spot a lie, understand a motive, and relates it all back to something that happened in the village. She draws comparisons between whatever death she is looking into, to everyday mishaps in the village. The maid who ran away with the fishmonger's son 20 years ago, will become relevant to a business partner deciding he didn't need his partner around anymore.
No matter how nosy she is, how much she is willing to butt in wherever she feels like, you can't help but love her. Her nosiness isn't malicious, she's just curious. She wants to know what's going on around her, partly to understand human nature, and I think, partly because she can't help herself. In an age that limited what women could do educationally, a woman who had a curious mind didn't have a lot of outlets. Sure she could study and read all the books she wanted, but that wouldn't be enough for a woman with Jane Marple's brain. She would not be satisfied with that, she would need to understand why people did the things they do, what motivates them. What better way to do that, than to study those around her.
Even with all the intelligence that is residing under her grey hair, I wouldn't want her to solve my death, if she didn't have a habit of dong it with a certain gentleness. Much like Maisie Dobbs, she truly seems to care about those around her, even those that committed the crime She understands them in a way that most detectives wouldn't normally even try to do. I think that's part of the reason why she's so damn good. It's her complete understanding and sympathy for the human nature that allows her to do what she does, and do it so well.
I've started calling it Jessica Fletcher Syndrome when a town has an insanely high murder rate in a mystery series. While I do love Jane and to a lesser extent Jessica I would sprint in the opposite direction if I ever saw them coming towards me! Jane with her understanding of human nature is probably my favorite detective. She's just wonderful!
To be a friend to Jane Marple was to risk life and limb. Either as victim or culprit. :)
Same with Jessica Fletcher.
For me there is only one Jane Marple and that is Joan Hickson. Just sayin'.
Great post! I love Miss Marple's intelligence and a sharp wit -- she always has a clever turn of phrase at the ready. But no, I wouldn't want to be her neighbor. In addition to the freakishly high murder rate around her, I just wouldn't want to think my neighbor noticed my every move.
I love Agatha Christie and Miss Marple! Actually I just love all of her books :). I am looking forward to reading about more of your favorite mystery authors!
While I like Jessica Fletcher okay, I never really warmed up to Miss Marple for some reason. Looking forward to the next detective on your list!
Don't hit me but I've never seen Miss Marple. I can't get into crime shows very easily.
Ryan, thanks for this nice little piece on Jane Marple. I haven't read her mysteries as much as Poirot's and I need to get to know her better than I do.
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