Miss Marple Books in Order: A Whodunit Guide to the Classic Series

Published: 6 May 2023
Written by Chris Beach

For those who adore mystery fiction, there's no better companion than Agatha Christie's cherished detective, Miss Jane Marple. This sharp-witted, unpretentious heroine possesses an extraordinary talent for untangling criminal webs, leaving readers spellbound by her astute observations and remarkable inferences. If you're just encountering Miss Marple's escapades or yearning to re-explore her captivating cases, this post will provide a roadmap through the Miss Marple books in order, ensuring every enigmatic detail is savored.

Miss Marple

Table of Contents

• The Miss Marple Books in Order
• Miss Marple Collections of Short Stories
• Closing the Casebook

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Should I Read the Miss Marple Books in Order?
  • Where Did Agatha Christie Get the Name 'Marple'?

• Related Posts
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Our literary voyage commences in the charming hamlet of St. Mary Mead, where Miss Marple calls home and employs her perceptive understanding of village life to decipher even the most perplexing of conundrums. Regardless of whether you're a devoted enthusiast or a curious newcomer, this all-encompassing list will plunge you into her realm of suspense and fascination, allowing you to appreciate the full extent of Agatha Christie's masterful narrative skills. So, prepare a comforting beverage and get ready to embark on an exhilarating literary expedition with the incomparable Miss Marple.

The Miss Marple Books in Order

1. The Murder at the Vicarage (1930)

The Murder at the Vicarage
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Miss Marple makes her debut as a keen detective when a shocking homicide shatters the tranquility of St. Mary Mead, a quaint English village. Beneath its serene facade lies a hotbed of deception, guilt, and hidden motives. The widely despised Colonel Protheroe, a domineering magistrate and landowner, meets his untimely end with a bullet to the head in the vicar's study. Even the vicar himself had wished him dead. Amidst a multitude of suspects, the astute Miss Marple is the only one capable of disentangling the intricate web of evidence, ultimately revealing the true identity of the murderer.

1A. The Thirteen Problems: Short Stories (1932)

In "The Thirteen Problems," Agatha Christie masterfully weaves together a collection of Miss Marple short stories, each one a small masterpiece of intrigue and deduction. These captivating tales present the sharp-witted amateur sleuth as she demonstrates her uncanny ability to solve mysteries that leave others baffled. From a macabre dinner party game that takes a dark twist, to mysterious deaths and inexplicable happenings in the sleepy village of St. Mary Mead, Miss Marple's keen observational skills and understanding of human nature consistently lead her to the truth. This engaging compilation showcases Christie's talent for crafting unforgettable stories, with each tale providing a perfect blend of suspense, character, and surprise. The stories included are:

  • The Tuesday Night Club
  • The Idol House of Astarte
  • Ingots of Gold
  • The Blood-Stained Pavement
  • Motive v. Opportunity
  • The Thumb Mark of St. Peter
  • The Blue Geranium
  • The Companion
  • The Four Suspects
  • A Christmas Tragedy
  • The Herb of Death
  • The Affair at the Bungalow
  • Death by Drowning

The Miss Marple short stories are available in an omnibus collection.

1B. Miss Marple's Final Cases: Short Stories (1979)

From puzzling enigmas that baffle even the experts, to discovering the dark secrets lurking beneath the surface of a quiet village, this captivating collection demonstrates why Miss Marple remains one of the most endearing and enduring detectives in the world of crime fiction. The following stories are included in the collection:

  • Sanctuary
  • Strange Jest
  • Tape-Measure Murder
  • The Case of the Caretaker
  • The Case of the Perfect Maid
  • Miss Marple Tells a Story
  • The Dressmaker's Doll
  • In a Glass Darkly

The Miss Marple short stories are available in an omnibus collection.

2. The Body in the Library (1942)

The Body in the Library
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The Bantrys are shocked to discover a young woman's corpse, clad in evening attire and smeared makeup, in their library early one morning. Questions abound about her identity, how she ended up there, and the link to another deceased girl found in a desolate quarry with her remains charred. Seeking answers amid whispers of scandal, the respectable Bantrys enlist the help of Miss Marple. Employing her unmatched cunning, she devises an ingenious snare to capture the cold-blooded murderer.

3. The Moving Finger (1942)

The Moving Finger
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"The Moving Finger," takes us to the town of Lymstock, a place rife with scandalous secrets where even a flood of anonymous hate mail barely raises eyebrows. However, the town's atmosphere shifts dramatically when Mrs. Symmington, one of the hate mail recipients, takes her own life. Though her suicide note reads, "I can't go on," Miss Marple challenges the coroner's ruling, casting doubt on the true nature of her demise. In the ensuing chaos, trust becomes scarce and once-shameful secrets transform into lethal threats.

4. Sleeping Murder (1976)

Sleeping Murder
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In Agatha Christie's enthralling Miss Marple mystery, "Sleeping Murder," our unyielding detective delves into the realm of ghost hunting, unearthing startling proof of a flawless crime. Gwenda, having recently moved into a new house, experiences bizarre occurrences that escalate as she attempts to modernize her residence. Instead, she only manages to dredge up the home's dark history. Overcome by an inexplicable terror every time she ascends the staircase, Gwenda enlists the help of Miss Marple to banish her spectral tormentors. Together, they set out to unravel a seemingly "perfect" crime committed long ago.

5. A Murder Is Announced (1950)

A Murder Is Announced
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The residents of Chipping Cleghorn find themselves consumed with curiosity when an advertisement in the Gazette boldly proclaims a murder will take place at Little Paddocks on Friday, October 29th, at 6:30 p.m. As the villagers speculate whether this is a mere childish prank or a malicious hoax, they can't help but attend the event. Suddenly, the lights extinguish, a gunshot rings out, and upon their restoration, a horrifying scene is revealed. With an apparently impossible crime before her, Miss Marple takes on the challenge to uncover the truth and ensure the murderer doesn't escape justice.

6. They Do It with Mirrors (1952)

They Do It with Mirrors
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Our perceptive detective feels a sense of impending danger while visiting a friend residing in Stoneygates, a rehabilitation center for wayward youth. Her apprehensions prove accurate when an attempt is made on the life of the administrator. Though he survives unscathed, a mysterious visitor in another area of the facility isn't so lucky, meeting a deadly end. Dismissing the notion of mere coincidence, Miss Marple employs her shrewdness to unravel the enigma surrounding the stranger's visit and the ensuing homicide.

7. A Pocket Full of Rye (1953)

A Pocket Full of Rye
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Financial magnate Rex Fortescue meets a sudden, painful demise while sipping tea in his counting house. A subsequent examination reveals traces of cereal in the deceased's pockets. However, it's an incident in the parlor that solidifies Miss Marple's belief that she's dealing with a crime intricately linked to verse. With her sharp intuition, she delves into this cryptic case to bring the culprit to justice.

8. 4:50 from Paddington (1957)

4:50 from Paddington
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A woman named Elspeth McGillicuddy witnesses a chilling murder through the window of her train as it briefly runs parallel to another. She sees a man tighten his grip around a woman's throat before the body collapses and the trains part ways. Despite the lack of witnesses, suspects, or even a corpse, Miss Marple takes Elspeth's account seriously. Enlisting the aid of her resourceful young friend, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, she sends her to infiltrate the enigmatic Crackenthorpe family, who appear to be at the center of this perplexing case. Together, they endeavor to unmask the cunning killer.

9. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1961)

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
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A lethal poison meant for a stunning movie star, Marina Gregg, instead claims the life of her enthusiastic fan, Heather Babcock. Moments before the tragedy, Heather had been excitedly chatting with her idol when she suddenly suffers a catastrophic seizure after consuming a toxic concoction. As the authorities scramble for answers, suspecting the intended target was Marina, Miss Marple takes matters into her own hands, conducting her own investigation. She knows all too well that even the most serene village can harbor sinister secrets.

10. A Caribbean Mystery (1964)

A Caribbean Mystery
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The charming sleuth finds herself intrigued by a peculiar tale of a murderer while soaking up the Caribbean sunshine. Though the warm weather provides relief for her rheumatism, Miss Marple feels mildly unfulfilled in the idyllic, uneventful setting. Her curiosity is piqued when a retired military man shares a story about a killer he once knew. However, just as he is about to reveal a photograph of this dubious acquaintance, a sudden interruption occurs - a distraction that turns out to be deadly.

11. At Bertram's Hotel (1965)

At Bertram's Hotel
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"At Bertram's Hotel," follows the delightful sleuth as she takes a holiday at an upscale London hotel, only to find herself entangled in another case when a peculiar guest departs unexpectedly. Upon her arrival at Bertram's Hotel, Miss Marple is greeted by a mix of traditional decor, flawless service, and an underlying sense of peril beneath the hotel's polished exterior. Little does she know that the hotel's atmosphere will give way to a series of violent events, all triggered when an eccentric guest makes the mistake of heading to the airport on the wrong day.

12. Nemesis (1971)

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Our beloved sleuth is tasked with a perplexing investigation after receiving a letter from the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel, an acquaintance she met during her travels. The baffling instructions from beyond the grave direct Miss Marple to look into a crime, but with no specific details regarding the individuals involved or the time and location of the incident. Intrigued by the challenge, Miss Marple soon finds herself confronted with the ultimate crime - murder - as it becomes clear that someone is determined to keep past misdeeds hidden.

Miss Marple Collections of Short Stories

The Complete Short Stories

The Complete Short Stories
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"The Complete Short Stories" is a captivating collection of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple short stories, all in one extraordinary volume. This indispensable anthology showcases the sharp-witted Miss Marple, whose keen observations of her sleepy hometown, St. Mary Mead, grant her exceptional insights into the complexities of human nature. With her unmatched crime-solving abilities, Miss Marple has earned the praise of her friend, Sir Henry Clithering, the former Scotland Yard Commissioner, as "the finest detective God ever made." Fans of Agatha Christie will find this omnibus an absolute must-have, brimming with murder, intrigue, and the very best of detective fiction.

Closing the Casebook

Diving into your first Miss Marple book offers an entryway into a realm where the unpretentious detective evolved into a memorable figure captivating readers across generations. As you explore the delightful village of St. Mary Mead and beyond, you'll be immersed in the complexities of human behavior and the brilliant problem-solving skills of our cherished protagonist. Whether you opt for the standalone Miss Marple stories or delve into any of the numerous Miss Marple compilations, you're set for a gripping journey abundant in mystery, cleverness, and the ageless appeal of Agatha Christie's exceptional narration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Read the Miss Marple Books in Order?

Diving into the world of Miss Marple is an exciting endeavor, one that leaves readers pondering whether to unravel her mysteries in the order they were penned or merely indulge in random tales as their fancy takes them. While each story showcases Agatha Christie's remarkable flair for crafting intricate mysteries that can be appreciated as standalone narratives, adhering to the chronological sequence provides a unique experience that's truly rewarding.

By savoring the Miss Marple books in their intended order, you'll witness the evolution of Christie's storytelling finesse and observe the subtle nuances that develop in her protagonist's character over time. Additionally, immersing yourself in this chronological journey allows you to uncover the interwoven threads that connect various tales, lending a sense of coherence and continuity to the entire series. Therefore, although it's not strictly necessary to read the Miss Marple books in sequence, doing so will undoubtedly enrich your experience, leaving you with a deeper appreciation for Agatha Christie's timeless sleuth and her extraordinary detective abilities.

Where Did Agatha Christie Get the Name 'Marple'?

The origin of the name Marple, connected to Agatha Christie's well-known character, Jane Marple, has long piqued the curiosity of mystery enthusiasts. The answer was revealed when Agatha herself replied to a fan's inquiry about the source of the name:

Dear Mrs McMurphy, I expect you will be interested to learn that at the time I was writing The Thirteen Problems (starting with a series of 6 short stories for a magazine) I was staying with a sister of mine in Cheshire and we went to a sale at Marple Hall - the house alone, she said, was worth seeing, a beautiful old manor, belonging to the Bradshaws descended from Judge Bradshaw who sentenced Charles I. It was a very good sale with fine old Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture and at it I bought 2 Jacobean oak chairs which I still have - Wanting a name for my "old maid" character I called her Jane Marple. So now you know the answer to your question!

If you enjoy the Miss Marple mysteries, you'll love the novels of Laura Levine!

Portrait of the article author, Chris Beach
Chris Beach

Hi, I'm Chris. My love of books started when I was a child visiting libraries with my Dad. The smell and feel of old pages still sparks something within me that can I can only express as an emotional attachment to books. Two decades later this evolved into a passion for collecting rare books, particularly 17th century early-English literature, and rare children's books. I believe every book has its own story and each one reveals something new about the world we live in.
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