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Agatha Christie - The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side - Full Review
Audiobooks - Agatha Christie Full Reviews

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

by Agatha Christie

HarperCollins (2007)
Read by Joan Hickson
Unabridged CD Edition


The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side takes readers of Christie back to the setting in which the dramatic opening of the earlier Christie novel, The Body in the Library plays out. Gossington Hall is now the residence of a glamorous but troubled actress, Marina Gregg, but it is as unlucky a residence as ever. This novel is however decidedly less light-hearted than its predecessor.

The character of Marina Gregg is sadly not enough to support the drama in this novel and though a central character to the story she is frequently discussed only in the background as less central characters come to the fore.

The plot of the novel is decent enough - in fact very good, but the real genius in the story is the intensely personal, yet brilliantly disguised motive of the murderer.

The novel has a particularly slow start, providing much time for Miss Marple to reflect disdainfully on encroaching modernity and the spoilage of traditional rural life - interesting enough material if you like that sort of thing, but perfectly dull reading otherwise.

The first murder is fascinating - a woman accidentally murdered after drinking a glass of wine intended for her host - the same Marina Gregg. The dead woman, Heather Badcock is, or rather was a babbling, insensitive sort - the kind of woman who is kind and decent and well meaning, but who is unlikely to consider the consequences of her actions for other people.


The sense of suspense in the novel comes from the realisation that it was Marina Gregg who was meant to drink the poisoned cup... and then the admission by Gregg herself that she has received threatening letters. Letters warning her she is about to die.

Gregg is a rather self-centred and depressive sort, and although quite evidently a feeling woman she is not the sort of person the reader can warm to. Her feelings are self-centred, and her miseries frequently the consequence of her own delusional optimism. Her seemingly kind husband excites some feelings of sympathy, but even his actions at times appear suspicious, even sinister.

Christie is good at creating characters who might have a strong motive for murdering the pathetic Marina Gregg - though this does require acceptance of some pretty extraordinary coincidences. Unfortunately there is very little here in the way of insight into human nature that is found in the best Christie novels.

The solution to the mystery is really quite excellent, but in getting to the end the reader must endure some uncharacteristically dull narrative and dialogue from Christie and if a particularly alert reader alights on the correct solution early on, the novel carries very little interest subsequently.

This HarperCollins edition is made still more dull by the fact that Joan Hickson's reading is here particularly flat and colourless.


Litrev rating 2 / 5



 
Agatha Christie - The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
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Audiobooks - Agatha Christie Audio Books

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

by Agatha Christie

A party is held by a glamorous actress and her husband.


One guest is taken ill and subsequently dies. The doctor who examines the dead woman is concerned. He contacts the police. And soon it is discovered that the glass of wine the lady had taken was poisoned.

That is when the fear sets in. The glass the lady drank had not been intended for her, but for her host...



After a dull start the novel climaxes quite early until a spate of new murders towards the end revitalizes things. In spite of this and some striking imagery, the novel doesn't live up to expectations. A good plot for a short story, perhaps, but not enough to sustain a novel.

Litrev rating 2 / 5



 
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