“Sleeping Murder” by Agatha Christie – Ghosts of a Perfect Crime

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (Book cover)
Sadly, even fictional characters must one day meet an end, but it is always more inspiring when it happens at the hands of their makers, something Agatha Christie understood rather well, having penned the final acts for both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot many years before retiring them.

She gave it all to bid them a worthy farewell, and it was most certainly enough, at least in Miss Marple's case as she was called upon to solve the perfect assassination in Sleeping Murder.

Briefly-explained, the story revolves around a couple, Gwenda and Giles Reed, who have just moved into their new home. Strangely enough, bizarre occurrences begin piling up around them, including a vision of a strangled woman in a hallway, in addition to which it was discovered that two of the additions Gwenda wanted to make to the house – a set of steps in the sloping garden and a dining room door – had already been in place but hidden away until the workers found them.

Suspecting some sort of haunting, she turns to her friend Jane Marple to help make some sense of it, and going against her wise old friend's advice to let sleeping dogs lie, goes on a hunt for the truth, one clue after the next.

Eventually, this digging into the past sets the couple as well as Jane Marple not only on the tracks of a forgotten and seemingly-perfect murder, but also in a very real and present danger.

It can definitely be argued that in terms of style, Sleeping Murder is perhaps Agatha Christie's greatest Miss Marple story. It is weaved together with such finesse and plays on the ideas of the supernatural and the unknown so well that it simply hooks you in right from the start and doesn't let you off until the end.

The mystery of what is happening to Gwenda is developed in such a way that you can never be too certain of what is happening, or more precisely, it feels surrealistic despite your brain striving to come up with a logical explanation to it all.

This is really a first-class sort of trickery Agatha Christie plays on the readers, leading them by the nose down a path they know is ridiculous yet cannot avoid following. Chances are you are going to finish this book in a single sitting.

Moving on from what is perhaps one of Christie's best stories, we come face-to-face with the small cast of characters, mainly revolving around the young couple and Jane Marple herself.

Though it may seem like a bold idea to carry the story on more shoulders than Jane's, Gwenda and Giles actually make for rather endearing protagonists, ones you really start to care for and whose fates become important to you. They certainly aren't of the boring variety, often spending their time occupied with practical thoughts or actions, advancing the story in a rather entertaining fashion.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (Book cover)
As for Miss Marple herself, she is as witty, cunning and insightful as ever, blowing everyone out of the water with her simple deductive reasoning methods and her ability to read human nature.

In the end, it may be a shame that Jane Marple had to retire from the world of literature, but one couldn't think of a more fitting farewell for her.

Sleeping Murder is one of Agatha Christie's most masterfully-crafted mysteries, and any fan of the whodunit genre will greatly appreciate this work of art.

Agatha Christie (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976)

Agatha Christie
(15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976)

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Agatha Christie is thought of by many as being the grandmother of murder mysteries. Throughout her novels, which include the classics And Then There Were None and Death on the Nile, Christie developed many groundbreaking techniques for her time, most of which are being used in one way or another by modern murder mystery writers.


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