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Review of 'Marple: Twelve New Stories' - various authors

It was with a degree of trepidation that I requested this for review. I am a huge Agatha Christie fan and no 'extra' that I've read has ever managed to capture that same perfect sense of place and person. Over the years there have been a lot of sequels and adaptations and some have been better than others. I decided long ago that no one will ever be able to 'do' Christie, except Christie herself, but that doesn't usually stop me enjoying a book/adaptation that's well written.

In this instance, some of my favourite authors had stories in this anthology, so I was hopeful that they would be able to produce something that was towards the better end of the pseudo-Christie scale. Does it recreate Miss Marple in every glorious detail? No. Does that matter? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

I guess the answer to that question depends on what a reader is looking for. There is plenty for Christie purists to pick holes in; some of the settings don't fit with the traditional Miss Marple stories, there are references to much loved characters which don't quite work in the context of the story they're in and some stories are paler versions of Christie's own plots. However, there are plenty of positives to find as well. One story brilliantly captured Dolly Bantry as played by Joanna Lumley and I knew it was working when I found myself reading Dolly's lines in Joanna's voice. Miss Marple herself is as sharp as ever and there were several stories that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I think for me, the bottom line is this. As with any book of this type, it has to be judged on its own merits. We may think we are familiar with the characters it contains, but this is not an Agatha Christie book. Every writer imagines the characters slightly differently (we only have to look at the different TV and film incarnations to see this) and consequently, nothing will ever quite be the way we, the reader, think it should be. That said, the stories are well written and, if taken as a tribute to the great Miss Marple, should and will be enjoyed by many. Ultimately, Agatha Christie was one of a kind and it's a braver person than me who would attempt to follow in her footsteps.

Take the book purely on its own merit and it's a pleasant enough way to while away an afternoon.

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