19 August 2013

Review: Agatha Christie Short Stories: MASTERPIECES IN MINIATURE Part One.


What I am doing here is reviewing some short stories that I have read on my Kindle. This set of 6 are all Miss Marple stories.
They were purchased individually (in most cases I actually got them free as part of a promotion).
I have read all of them before.
Mostly they are 40 pages or so in length.
Although the connection between them is "MASTERPIECES IN MINIATURE", a sub-title given to them by Harper Collins who has published them in e-book format, they have undoubtedly been published in earlier collections.
This post won't be a review so much as a reading record, which hopefully will be helpful to those looking for some cheapish reads..

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CARETAKER: A Miss Marple short story.
Kindle version
First published in the UK in January 1942 and then in the USA in June 1942.
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997 
 
Synopsis (Amazon)

Doctor Haydock, the resident, joyfully brusque, GP of St Mary Mead is apt to drag Miss Marple out of her little depression as she recovers from the flu. He has for a little story, penned himself, but can she figure it out?

The tale revolves around the return of the prodigal son of Major Laxton, the devilishly handsome Harry Laxton. Harry, after falling head over heels for the village tobacconist’s daughter and leading a life of childish indiscretions has ‘made good’ and has returned to lay claim to his tumbling childhood home and introduce the village to his beautiful new wife.

But, the villagers are prone to gossip about young Harry’s past and one person in particular cannot forgive him for tearing down the old house. Will Miss Marple’s acumen be up to the task of solving the story even in its sickly state?

THE CASE OF THE PERFECT MAID: A Miss Marple short story.
Kindle version
This was first published in the UK in April 1942 and then as The Maid Who Disappeared in the US in September 1942.
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997 

Synopsis (Amazon)

When Miss Marple’s maid asks her to intervene in the delicate problem of her rather opinionated cousin Gladys, she is a little hesitant to see that much can be done. Poor Gladys believes herself to be accused of stealing and hiding a precious brooch belonging to her employers, the rather reserved Misses Skinner. Whilst one sister malingers with mysterious ailments, the other sees to her every need, and they’ve both decided that Gladys must go. But, one day there appears a perfect maid, a paragon to replace her, or so they think…

SANCTUARY: A Miss Marple short story
Kindle Version
First published in the USA in 1954 as Murder at the Vicarage
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997 

Synopsis (Amazon)
Bunch, engrossed in her flower arrangements for the church is rather dully placing the chrysanthemums when she sees a man crumpled over on the chancel steps, dying. The man can only utter one word, ‘Sanctuary’. Nothing can be done, and his final words ‘please, please’ can’t help anyone at the vicarage to understand what has happened.

But, when his relatives arrive very promptly to pick up his possessions Bunch can’t get the word Sanctuary out of her head and she knows just who to turn to, her godmother, Miss Marple. What Bunch and Miss Marple discover is rather more exotic and exciting than can ever be expected to happen in a sleepy village like Chipping Cleghorn, who is this man and what does Sanctuary mean?

TAPE MEASURE MURDER: A Miss Marple short story
Kindle version
First published in the USA in November 1941 and then in the UK in February 1942.
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997

Synopsis (Amazon)

Miss Politt has been waiting and waiting outside Laburnum Cottage for Mrs. Spenlow, to no avail. She nervously acquires the help of the next door neighbour whose gumption and persistence reveal that Mrs. Spenlow is dead on the hearthrug.

The whole of St. Mary Mead are convinced it’s Mr. Spenlow, who has shown no emotion upon his wife’s sudden death, but, with Miss Marple’s characteristic assiduity she shows that it is perhaps not that simple. And when people’s pasts catch up with them, it can make them act rashly.

STRANGE JEST:  A Miss Marple short story
Kindle version
First published in the USA in November 1941, and in the UK in July 1944.
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997

Synopsis (Amazon)

Miss Marple is accosted at a party by a pair of lovebirds who think that their lately deceased uncle has buried their inheritance. The naïve pair expects to impart the details of the tale to Miss Marple and for her to summon forth where the buried treasure must be instantaneously. But, the careful observer of human nature, the consequence of living in a small English village, knows that a little examination is needed.

Invited to Ansteys, the ransacked family seat, Miss Marple ensconces herself amongst house that has perhaps been too thoroughly investigated. Uncle Mathew reminds Miss Marple of her old Uncle Henry and she regales the two with what appear to be meaningless, infuriating anecdotes, little do they know their importance and worth.

THE THUMB MARK OF ST. PETER : A Miss Marple short story
Kindle version
First published in 1928
The Thirteen Problems publ. 1932 
Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997

Synopsis (Amazon)

Fifteen years ago, Miss Marple’s niece, Mabel Denman was accused of murdering her husband. Mabel’s marriage had been an unhappy one, as Geoffrey had been abusive and violent. Can Miss Marple clear her niece’s name and reveal the true perpetrator?

Rating: 4.4

2 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - What a great collection. I hadn't seen this particular grouping of those stories before. Something I think I'll add to my 'I know I've read 'em, but I want this collection anyway' list...

Clothes In Books said...

I really like Miss Marple stories, Kerrie, I think her discursive, village-parallel style suits the short form: I don't think the Poirot short ones are as good.

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