Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Novels
Agatha Christie wrote a total of 12 Miss Marple novels as well as two collections of short stories. The first novel to feature Miss Marple was ‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ published in 1930. The character of Miss Marple was a hit and she wrote 11 further novels with the final one, Sleeping Murder being published in in 1976 despite the fact that Christie actually wrote it along with Curtain; Poirot’s Final Case many years earlier.
Miss Jane Marple is an elderly spinster who has a nose for smelling out evil. Never one to believe anything she is told by anyone until it is proven true, she can get to the bottom of a murder and frequently runs circles around the investigating officers. Being an old friend of Sir Henry Clithering, former head of Scotland Yard so often finds herself embroiled in hunting down murderers. With the ability to play upon her old age, she is often underestimated resulting in suspects giving away more than they intend and although her parallels o old acquaintances and residents of her home St Mary Mead may come across as babbling or relevant, there is always a bite to her allusions!
Although there are fewer Miss Marple novels compared to the Poirot ones, Christie certainly makes up for it with the body counts – most of the Miss Marple novels have more Murders on average than the Poirot ones so for anyone loving a good classic ‘who done it’ with a select group of suspects each with a murder and an extra murder thrown in for good measure will not be disappointed if they pick up a Miss Marple novel. Agatha Christie at her best!
All the Agatha Christie Miss Marple Novels in Order
Which Miss Marple Novel to Read First?
It’s obviously a good option to read the first novel to feature Miss Marple as the first Miss Marple novel you read…The Murder at the Vicarage – Christie gives a great introduction to this one of a kind sleuth but you could start with others if you wanted to. In terms of what order to read the Miss Marple novels, I would only really direct people to make sure you don’t read ‘Nemesis’ until after you have read ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ as there are definite call backs to characters from the first novel and you want to avoid any spoilers. Just as much as you don’t want to know who did it, you also don’t want to find out who definitely didn’t do it as this can spoil some of the fun too.
What are the best Miss Marple Novels to Read?
Talk to any Agatha Christie fan and you’ll probably get each and every Marple novel cited as that person’s favourite and in truth there really isn’t a bad one among them. I find the Marple novels a lot more consistent than the Poirot ones. Where as Agatha Christie decidedly fell out of love with Poirot, she always wrote favourably of Marple and consistently produced mysteries of a high standard. If you like a lot of murders then ‘A Murder is Announced’, ‘They do it with Mirrors’, ‘4.50 from Paddington’ and ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ are excellent choices. My personal favourites are ‘4.50 From Paddington’ and ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ and ‘The Moving Finger’. Least favourite on the list for me is ‘Nemesis’ and I’m not a huge fan of the book ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ although I do really like to TV adaptation for the Marple series starring Geraldine McEwin as Marple alongside Martine McCutcheon and Stephen Mangan. But every Agatha Christie fan is different. Just as everyone has their own favourite actress who played the enigmatic Miss Marple, everyone has their own favourite book, character and TV episode. My one recommendation would be to just start reading them and enjoy!
Miss Marple Short Story Collections
Along with the 12 Marple novels, Agatha Christie also produced two collections of short stories, ‘The Thirteen Problems’ and Miss Marple’s Final Cases’. These collections contain the complete Marple short stories and are great for a coffee break read or if listening to them on audiobook, a commute to work.