The short story Tuesday Night Club introduced the world to Miss Jane Marple in1926. An elderly spinster, prim and fragile looking, Miss Marple was supposedly Agatha Christie’s favourite creation. The last novel featuring Miss Marple is Sleeping Murder which was published after Christie’s death. Miss Marple’s Final Cases is a collection of nine short stories, seven of which feature Miss Marple. The name of this book is a bit misleading, firstly because these cases actually occur somewhere in the middle of Marple’s detective career and secondly because two of the short stories in the book do not feature Miss Marple at all.
I’m a staunch fan of Miss Marple and all things Christie, but I must confess that the stories in this collection are not my favourites. Not that they’re bad, but some of them do seem a little rushed. In fact, I find this to be the case with all Marple short stories that I’ve read so far. There is something about the character that seems to warrant the more leisurely pace of a novel. Having said that, I did quite like Greenshaw’s Folly and The Case of The Caretaker. The later is faintly reminiscent of Endless Night, Christie’s suspense novel that did not feature any of her detectives.
As I mentioned, there are two stories in this collection that don’t feature Miss Marple. In fact, they are not detective/crime stories at all. I suppose they could be called supernatural stories. Robert Barnard, a crime writer and critic, said”... Christie did not have the stylistic resources to bring off [the supernatural stories] successfully." I disagree. Granted the outcome of the stories were somewhat predictable but Christie does create tension and foreboding in her own unique style.
If you’ve never read a Miss Marple before, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. It really doesn’t introduce the lady detective and her methods well enough. If however, you are a Miss Marple/Agatha Christie fan like me, definitely read Final Cases. It’s not Christie’s best work, but it’s still pretty darn good.