While on vacation at a resort hotel in the West Indies, Miss Marple correctly suspects that the apparently natural death of a retired British major is actually the work of a murderer planning yet another killing.
A friend of Miss Marple's sees a woman being strangled in a passing train. When police cannot find a body and doubt the story, Miss Marple enlists professional housekeeper, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, to go undercover.
Her old friend Maude Calthrop, wife of the village vicar, summons Miss Marple when several of the local residents receive a poison pen letter. All of the recipients thus far are men and all are accused of some act of moral turpitude. When the local solicitor's wife, Angela Symington, is found dead with a poison pen letter at her side, the coroner rules that she took her own life. Not surprisingly, Jane Marple disagrees and is convinced it was murder. When a second villager is killed, it appears Miss Marple is correct. She also deduces the real purpose of the letters. Written by
Oh dear, poor Ted, he seems, from his email address to be in Education, and one would suspect that his academic speciality is "Mystery Writers". A pity, excessive analysis over the years appears to have rather distorted his power of judgement. I was lucky enough to have been brought up in 1950s England, and I have never seen a series which more accurately reflects the life and people I remember then, less the murders of course! The real problem Ted has with the whole series is revealed in this comment: "At least this one emphasizes the obnoxious, mousey character of Jane more than the others." He just doesn't like Joan Hickson's characterisation. Well, sorry old chap, I knew many friends of my grandparents who were extremely similar to this Miss Marple, intelligent ladies of the Raj who had returned to England or daughters of the prewar middle class coping with the new society that was being shaped. They were used to a 'certain standard' in all things. Behind the fierce formal exterior, though, there was a twinkle, although often buried quite deeply. If Ted doesn't like this Joan Hickson characterisation, then I'm pretty sure he would have not have got on with Agatha Christie either. Probably Erle Stanley Gardner's more his type! This episode is up to the standard of the rest of the series, and it was directed by Roy Boulting, who would also remember this time well since it was his heyday at Shepperton Studios, producing classics like 'I'm alright Jack'. Hence the accuracy of the period feel. If you want to see Miss Marple really messed up, then check out the new 2004 series featuring Geraldine McEwan, whom I admire in the right part (Mapp and Lucia for example). But she is NOT Miss Marple, Miss Hickson IS.
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