The Thirteen Problems

Cover of The Thirteen Problems.

This collection of short Miss Marple stories was enjoyable. While Agatha Christie mostly follows her pattern of “the most vulnerable-looking person is most suspicious”, I don’t read mysteries for the plot, so I didn’t care all that much. But the characterisation of poor old Miss Marple was very entertaining to read! I remember how this narration device got boring and even annoying when I read most of the Miss Marple books in one go, but over longer intervals, it works very well.

After reading this book and a Poirot one back to back, my current preference of the Detection Club era that I’ve read is: Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Chesterton. And I think it’s no accident that female writers are leading my list: First off, to be recognised as a good writer as a woman you had to perform to higher standards than men, of course. But also, I think you write better characters if you’re more observant, and marginalisation strengthens observation skills.


‘I mean,’ said Miss Marple, puckering her brow a little as she counted the stitches in her knitting, ‘that so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly.’

Everybody is very much alike, really. But fortunately, perhaps, they don’t realize it.