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Although I do enjoy a mystery now and then I must ,with some embarrassment, confess I hadn’t read an Agatha Christie until most recently. Shocking, I know. After all, Dame Christie is the Queen of Mystery. That reason why I hadn’t read any of her books was my contentment to experience the film adaptations.
That is until I watched A Murder Is Announced.
This particular series stars Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, and while I have no real complaint with her portrayal, I do have concerns over other liberties. For one, Miss Marple is well-known for her ditzy little old lady approach to solving crimes, which makes the juxtaposition all the more interesting, for who would think this sweet spinster who continually knits has a mind sharp enough to see past the obvious and solve what the detectives can’t?
When something is seasoned right, don’t add more spice. Or in this case, let’s pass on making the Miss Marple sweeter for modern audiences. For instance, Miss Marple is classified primarily as a cozy mystery, meaning the murders are more mystery than gory. Also, Miss Marple plots tend to be conservative, not straying too far in social issues. Then there is the main personality of Miss Marple who is known for her prudent, if not prudish manner and values. With all that said, it is perplexing why the McEwan series takes viewers on such a darker path than Christie ever did. This series includes topics not overtly addressed in the books: incest, homosexuality, racism, feminism, religion. The addition of these spicier elements does not improve the plot, and actually detracts from it. There is also the suggestion Miss Marple had an affair with a married man in her younger days. All these extras did not entice me to continue with the series; it actually quelled my interest in continuing. It’s as if the producers felt a good solid mystery wouldn’t be enough for modern audiences.
At this point you might be wondering how I know about what Christie had or didn’t have in her books if I hadn’t read them. Easy–I consulted an expert. ET, my local librarian and mystery aficionado, assured me Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series did not focus on those previously mentioned topics, and she’s read them twice. After watching A Murder Is Announced I read it for myself. Already knowing the identity of the murderer rather spoiled the read, but I was actually reading for comparison. They should have stuck to the original plot.
While I might read more of Agatha Christie I will have to be careful not to read those which I’ve watched. Nothing spoils a good whodunnit more than knowing whodiddit. Then there is the fact I very much prefer Hercules Poirot, especially David Suchet’s studied performance of the Belgium detective. The little grey cells find his plots decidedly delicious and there are extra sweeteners in Suchet’s series.
Agatha Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)