The Mirror Crack’d from Side To Side (1962) by Agatha Christie is an interesting read. The title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalot which is quoted in the book.
In this book, Miss. Marple is brought to meet American actress Marina Gregg by her friend Heather Badcock. Heather is a huge fan of Gregg’s and met her in Bermuda many years before where she got her autograph. Gregg has just moved into Gossington Hall after buying the prestigious property with her husband producer Jason Rudd from a friend of Marple’s Dolly Bantry. Gregg and her husband host a housewarming party in aid of first aid charity St John Ambulance which Miss. Marple is invited to. Other guests in attendance are Lola Brewster, Mrs. Allcock and her husband Councillor Allcock, Ardwyck Fenn, General Barnstaple, Jim Galraith, Donald McNeil, Margot Bence as well as Heather and her husband Arthur. It is Heather’s last party as she dies from a poisoned daiquiri which many suspect was meant for Gregg. Gregg had been seen staring at a painting reportedly with a frozen look at the party. Miss Marple begins investigating as does Detective-Inspector Dermot Craddock.
In their investigations, they find out a lot about Gregg’s past. For a long time, she was unable to have biological children and adopted three children. One of her adopted offspring Margot was at the party. Eventually, she had a biological son but her son was intellectually disabled and Gregg had a nervous breakdown over this. More murders happen. Rudd’s secretary Ella Zielinsky is poisoned and Gregg’s butler Giuseppe is shot.
I think this is a great book. The backstory of the plot especially in relation to Gregg’s backstory is incredibly well thought out. The mystery element is very well and cleverly put together. It is very interesting how Hollywood and a small English country village are brought together. Gregg is not an easy character to like. She was certainly never a good mother to her four children but she is a complex and interesting character all the same. This plot is well thought out. You know that none of it is just thrown in as filler. Everything is tied together in the story perfectly that by the end you are like of course, how did I not work that out? But it isn’t easy to work out yet it all fits amazingly together when you finally do read it. A very interesting cast. I loved Heather. She was like all fans and her joy was infectious. I loved how Agatha wrote her. I could imagine her reading all the Hollywood gossip in the papers and magazines.
A great read.
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