The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side

Rating: **

St. Mary Mead has changed considerably over the years. A new area called ‘The Development’ by the old inhabitants of the village has been created. But human nature being what it always is….

The excitement is great when American actress Marina Gregg comes to live in Dolly Bantry’s old home, Gossington Hall. Miss Marple, older and dependent on a nurse, still has a brain as keen as ever. Sitting at her window, her eyes see more than people present at the fete at Gossington Hall. Heather Badcock, a kind and efficient woman, is murdered at the crowded party under the eyes of many witnesses. The bold and audacious murderer seemingly got away with the crime – but did he? Was Heather Badcock the real target? or was the famous movie star Marina Gregg the intended victim? Chief Inspector Craddock seems to think so along with Miss Marple, and working together they try and narrow down the list of suspects.

The actress herself will say nothing. They have only one clue to go on; Mrs. Bantry, a witness at the party, reports of a look of doom on Marina Gregg’s face whilst talking to Heather Badcock. What had caused this look? Had she seen someone or something terrible? The poem by Tennyson The Lady of Shalott comes to mind,

Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Whether she tells Scotland Yard or not, Marina Gregg obviously has an enemy. Two more deaths occur. Miss Marple is sure that the clue to the murderer lies in that one look. Vainly she questions and tries to deduce who she could have seen at that moment – only to make a shocking discovery.

Some thoughts
I’m not a huge Miss Marple fan which is not a famous thing to be, I know. Most readers of Agatha Christie love her and while I do admire her method of knowing ‘types’ of people, I can never really like her. Horrible, I know, but that’s just the way it is. I usually like the plots of the novels she’s in, but in this story, the plot only initially seemed water tight. Not every imaginable person was tacked with a motive to the murder – but soon things began to crop up and everyone seemed to have a hidden agenda. It may be the most unlikely person – but it shouldn’t be practically anybody! A critic Anthony Cox reviewed it thus,

“she has of course thought up one more brilliant little peg on which to hang her plot, but the chief interest to me of The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side was the shrewd exposition of what makes a female film star tick the way she does tick. And though one could accept a single coincidence concerning that married couple, the second and quite wildly improbable one tends to destroy faith in the story – still more so since it leads nowhere at all.”