Before Jessica Fletcher, there was Miss Marple.
What is the Miss Marple series about?
Next to Hercule Poirot, the world-renowned Belgian private detective, stands Miss Marple, the sweet little old lady from St Mary Mead.
Created by the ‘Queen of Crime’ Agatha Christie (here is the full Agatha Christie reading order), Miss Jane Marple doesn’t look like your average detective but possesses an uncanny knack for solving crimes that baffle the police.
One of Christie’s best-known characters, Miss Marple appears in 12 novels and 20 short stories. She has been portrayed on screen by Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, and Ita Ever, but also on TV by Helen Hayes, Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan, and Julia McKenzie.
How to read the Miss Marple Books in Order?
You can read the Miss Marple series in order, or not. In fact, you can just pick one up and read it, they work as standalone.
- The Murder at the Vicarage – Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, ‘would be doing the world at large a favor!’ It was a careless remark and one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the colonel was found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.
- The Thirteen Problems aka The Tuesday Club Murders – collection of Short Stories. The Tuesday Night Club is a venue where locals challenge Miss Marple to solve recent crimes. One Tuesday evening a group gathers at Miss Marple’s house and the conversation turns to unsolved crimes. The case of the disappearing bloodstains; the thief who committed his crime twice over; the message on the deathbed of a poisoned man which read ‘heap of fish’; the strange case of the invisible will; a spiritualist who warned that ‘Blue Geranium’ meant death.
- Miss Marple’s Final Cases – First, the mystery man in the church with a bullet wound… then, the riddle of a dead man’s buried treasure … the curious conduct of a caretaker after a fatal riding accident … the corpse and a tape-measure … the girl framed for theft … and the suspect accused of stabbing his wife with a dagger. Six cases with one thing in common – the astonishing deductive powers of Miss Marple.
- The Body in the Library – It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry? The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery.
- The Moving Finger – A spate of poison pen letters wreaks havoc on an English village. Once a place of trust, now all inhabitants are full of accusations. Who could be writing the letters and why?
- Sleeping Murder – Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernize the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a ‘perfect’ crime committed many years before.
- A Murder Is Announced – The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.’ Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out…
- They Do It with Mirrors aka Murder with Mirrors – Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion that doubles as a rehabilitation center for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr. Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate. Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr. Gilbrandsen’s visit.
- A Pocket Full of Rye – Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his ‘counting house’ when he suffered an agonizing and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals. Yet, it was the incident in the parlor which confirmed Jane Marple’s suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme…
- Greenshaw’s Folly – a short story that first appeared in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. Raymond West gets drawn into the most deadly adventure when he visits Greenshaw’s Folly. The lady of the house is drawing up a will, but when she is murdered a few days later, all the suspects have alibis. Can West’s aunt, Miss Marple solve the case?
- 4.50 from Paddington aka What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw – For an instant, the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Then the other train drew away. But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses … and no corpse.
- The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side – One minute, silly Heather Badcock had been gabbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure. But for whom was the deadly poison really intended? Marina’s frozen expression suggested she had witnessed something horrific. But, while others searched for material evidence, Jane Marple conducted a very different investigation – into human nature.
- A Caribbean Mystery – As Miss Marple sat basking in the Caribbean sunshine she felt mildly discontented with life. True, the warmth eased her rheumatism, but here in paradise nothing ever happened. Eventually, her interest was aroused by an old soldier’s yarn about a strange coincidence. Infuriatingly, just as he was about to show her an astonishing photograph, the Major’s attention wandered. He never did finish the story.
- At Bertram’s Hotel – When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service, and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer. Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on a wrong day…
- Nemesis – In utter disbelief, Miss Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel. Recognizing in Miss Marple a natural flair for justice, Mr. Rafiel had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was that he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed.
If you like our article about the Miss Marple series in order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in the Rina Martin series by Jane Adams or the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.