They Do It With Mirrors

04/07/2011 at 1:56 PM (Books, Classics, Mystery, TV) (, , , , , )

This work originally appeared under the title Murder with Mirrors.  It starts out with Ruth Van Rydock conferring with Miss Marple about her sister, Carrie-Louise, who runs a sort of rehabilitation home for former delinquents.  Ruth does not approve of this scheme and thinks it rather hare-brained, as she believes it might end up being harmful to her sister. So she persuades Miss Marple who is an old school friend of theirs to visit Carrie-Louise to keep a watchful eye on her. True to form, there is a murder and it comes to light when the police investigate the murdered party was trying to warn them of an impending attempt of a poisoning.

The thing with this plot is it involves a family cast of several relatives who have some connection to Carrie Louise through her three marriages. She was once widowed and once divorced. Her third husband Lewis Serracold assists her to run her reform home by having the misfits involved in theatrical production and other productive pursuits.  Carrie has two daughters: one biological born to her first husband called Mildred and one adopted called Pippa, who died after she gave birth to Gina.

When we are introduced to Gina, she is a recent returnee to Stonygate after having married an American husband called Walter. In addition to these people, Jolley is the caretaker who has a trusted position. Stephen and Alex Restarick, the sons of Carrie Louise from her second marriage, are frequent visitors.  Also the secretary of Lewis Serracold, Edgar Lawson, resides with them although he seems to be on edge and mentally disturbed most of the time as he claims to be the illegitimate son of some famous man.

The murder happens after a visit from the son she had during her first marriage, Christian Goulbrandsen. But the puzzle is everyone present at the time has an alibi – they were  trapped inside a room except for Alex Restarick. But when he is disposed of, Miss Marple uses her wits to figure out who is behind the murders and what the motive is to enlighten everyone.

The TV adaptation starring Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple follows some of this storyline but infuses it with additional subplots involving possible guilt of Gina’s husband, the second husband of Carrie Louise being still enamoured with her, a love affair between Gina (here she is only the adopted daughter that is lavished with more affection while the biological daughter is neglected) and stepbrother Stephen. But to say the least, it is still entertaining and worth watching if you don’t mind it strays into entirely different territory. Look out for Joan Collins as Ruth Van Rydock not to mention the cast playing the roles Walter Hudd, Edgar Lawson and Stephen Restarick are eye candy!

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Murder is Easy

04/05/2011 at 1:00 AM (Books, Classics, Mystery, TV) (, , , , , , , , , )

Murder is Easy was an interesting work to contrast and compare between the written plot and the television adaptation featuring Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple.

In the book, the tale goes as follows. Luke Fitzwilliam shares a carriage with Mrs. Pinkerton, a sweet but absent-minded old lady. They get into conversation and she tells him murders disguised as accidents are happening in her town. She informs him she is on her way to Scotland Yard because the local police are not up to it but she has identified the murderer.

Luke later finds out Mrs Pinkerton was prevented from reaching the police due to an accident. So he goes to the town where she resided posing as a researcher to investigate who is responsible for the murders.  Several suspects emerge:

  • An antiques dealer
  • A solicitor
  • A doctor
  • A self-made businessman engaged to a pretty young woman

Yet Luke feels disturbed by dark forces at work as he pursues the line of detective work out of curiosity. Could it even be none of the above?

You will have to read the novel for the true story because the Miss Marple television adaptation drastically changes the plot by removing and adding new characters, altering their ages and afflictions, including new subplots and changing the type of accident Miss Pinkerton had. The original plot involved Miss Marple’s nephew but not his aunt.

In the Marple episode of Murder is Easy, it is Miss Marple herself who meets Mrs Pinkerton. Upon hearing of her accident, she decides to investigate by going to the funeral of her newly found acquaintance.  By observing the goings on in the village, she comes to the conclusion that someone is doing everything possible to keep buried secrets from being out. After Miss Marple discovers a valuable clue for a motive that had its origins in the past, she neatly solves the puzzle.

The best bits about the TV series are the drama stars you can identify :  E.g. Benedict Cumberbatch from the BBC series Sherlock, Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter and Miss Bingley from Pride and Prejudice ’95.

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