They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie


GoodreadsThey Do it with Mirrors
Series: Miss Marple #6
Age Category: Adult
Source: Library
Published: 1952


Miss Marple’s old school friend Ruth confesses that she feels uneasy for her sister Carrie Louise, and enlists Miss Marple to investigate.  Carrie Louise, it turns out, has married a philanthropist whose dream was to set up a reform school for delinquent boys.  Now she lives with her husband, a servant, and an assortment of family members who may or may not resent having to share their home with a number of troubled youth.  Initially Miss Marple cannot quite seem to find anything wrong, however.  Until someone dies.

Star Divider


They Do It with Mirrors seems to break new ground with its unique–for Miss Marple–setting, a reform school for troubled boys.  Though the list of possible suspects might seem to be immense, however, Miss Marple and the detectives quickly narrow down the list of possible suspects to the immediate friends and family, thereby making the setting apparently superfluous; the same incidents could have taken place in just about any wealthy home.  Once readers realize that the boys are not particularly relevant, the steam in the engine runs down a bit, though readers will be eager to see how Miss Marple solves this particularly puzzling crime.

For me, the title of the book proved perhaps the most interesting part about it.  Miss Marple has, by now, solved her fair share of perplexing crimes, most of them involving her well-to-do acquaintances.  The formula risks growing stale.  However, the title promises some sort of sleight of hand, some unusual trickiness that the other stories perhaps do not reach for.  I am not sure that the book fulfills that promise, however.  Though Christie provides her customary surprise ending, I admit I was not dazzled.  Readers know from the start that some sort of distraction was put in place to enable the criminal to confuse the witnesses and I rather wanted something more.  It is a fine ending.  It is a Christie ending. I just wonder if Christie needs to start doing something that feels new?

Even so, however, I can help but enjoy each of the Miss Marple stories.  Christie has a real gift for characters, and her descriptions of the key players always prove a highlight of her stories.  She is both perceptive and wittiy, and gives readers a real sense that she is about to plumb the depths of human nature.  Her observations make for fine reading, even if no mystery were involved at all.

Though perhaps not a standout in the Miss Marple series, They Do It with Mirrors is still worth a read, especially for those who are avid fans of Christie or for those who have not yet many of her works and may find this one more surprising than a veteran reader.    I will certainly be carrying on with my goal to read all the Miss Marple stories!

3 Stars

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