cover image Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

Naomi Alderman et al. Morrow, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-313605-2

In this disappointing anthology of authorized pastiches featuring Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple, some contributors fail to play fair with readers by not sharing the clues the elderly amateur sleuth relies on, and almost none of the tales effectively display her gifts at understanding human nature. Standing head-and-shoulders above the rest is Lucy Foley’s “Evil in Small Places,” set in the small town of Meon Maltravers, where Miss Marple is visiting an old school friend. Her suspicion that such places may harbor “more terrible things” than in England’s metropolises is borne out the night the community commemorates “the immolation of seventeen Protestant martyrs,” when one person is found fatally stabbed, clutching an ominous threatening note. Lesser efforts include Alyssa Cole’s gimmicky “Miss Marple Takes Manhattan” and Elly Griffith’s “Murder at the Villa Rosa,” in which Miss Marple describes Professor Moriarty as a murderer who was a brilliant loner, a characterization at odds with Conan Doyle’s. Nothing in this volume matches Sophie Hannah’s success in her novels featuring Christie’s other iconic sleuth, Hercule Poirot. (Sept.)