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Murder Among the Tea Cozies: Marple Returns to Masterpiece Mystery

Julia McKenzie's intrepid armchair detective Miss Jane Marple returns to Masterpiece Mystery this Sunday evening with the first of two brand-new installments of Marple that are bound to delight connoisseurs of crime.

The two spellbinding installments, "The Mystery of Chimneys" and "The Blue Geranium" follow last month's "The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side," which kicked off a new collection of Six By Agatha, Masterpiece Mystery's pod of Agatha Christie-based programming that includes three installments of Marple and three of Poirot, including an adaptation of Christie's classic potboiler, "Murder on the Orient Express."

Here, McKenzie returns as Miss Marple, the elderly spinster whose kindly exterior belies the rapier wit of a first rate detective... and who finds herself often crossing paths with murder itself, whether it be in amid the hedgerows of a postcard-perfect English village or in the faded ballroom of an ornate manor house.

The two Marple mysteries that air over the next two Sunday evenings are among the very best of the series, offering a series of plot twists, red herrings, bait-and-switches, and some deductive reasoning that matches Jane's wits against the very best of Scotland Yard. Throughout it all, Jane remains her sunny, indefatigable self, her acute mind whirring away even as she pretends to be more interested in china patterns and tea cakes.

In "The Secret of Chimneys," gorgeously directed by John Strickland, Marple finds herself caught up in a decades-old scandal and a fresh murder while a guest at her family home of Chimneys, a great pile of a mansion that's named for its trademark chimneys. While it's intended to be both a weekend with family--one that happens to coincide with both a diplomatic mission and a series of marriage proposals--it ends in murder as the unsolved mystery of a missing diamond, the spirit of vengeance, and long-buried secrets all get jumbled together in a first-rate mystery that will have audiences on the edge of their seat from start to finish.

This installment also features yet another selection of fantastic actors, continuing Marple's tradition of luring unexpected and talented names to the period mystery series. "The Secret of Chimneys" features Stephen Dillane, Edward Fox, Mathew Horne, Ruth Jones, Charlotte Salt, Jonas Armstrong, Michelle Collins, Dervla Kirwan, and Adam Godley.

Be sure to come back a week later for "The Blue Geranium," as Marple races against the clock to free a wrongly accused man of a gruesome murder, a case referred to in the press as the notorious Blue Geranium Murder. As Marple attempts to stop the wheels of justice from making a terrible mistake, she reflects back on the details of the case the numerous victims, and the strange occurrence of the titular flower itself.

Unfolding at a rapid pace, "The Blue Geranium" is a top-notch mystery that features Sharon Small, Toby Stephens, Paul Rhys, Patrick Baladi, and Claire Rushbrook in a story of greed, hysteria, madness, jealousy, and murder.

All in all, Masterpiece Mystery's ongoing Marple proves just why Agatha Christie's work continues to endure decades later, offering slick, smart, and taut mysteries. They are a pleasure to watch, though I do feel bad each time, not for Miss Jane Marple, but for those criminals she's set her sights on... and for those foolish police officers who believe she's nothing more than a dotty old lady. Thankfully, they're both proven wrong each and every time.

The first of the two remaining Miss Marple mysteries begin this Sunday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on PBS as part of Masterpiece Mystery. Check your local listings for details.


Ridolph said…
I can't believe that Jas likes this new Marple! She's too young, and looks Ike a puppy dog hit by a car! Don't care for her at all even as an actress; in fact I can't remember a worse one.
Tempest said…
I like Julia McKenzie's Miss Marple better than Geraldine McEwan's. Of course, nobody, NOBODY beats Joan Hickson. Hickson is Miss Marple. However, I think part of the problem with the recent Marples is the scripts. I understand that adapting to the screen requires some changes. But why on earth they feel the need to change the nature of the characters, their motiviations, and key elements of the plot -- whodunit and why -- is beyond me. Some of the stories don't make much sense because of the changes. If they feel the need to make that many changes, say these are inspired by Agatha Christie. Not adaptations.
Hadley said…
I love Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple and think they've done a great job with these installments. The cast is always top notch and the stories are fun and engaging. I really enjoyed The Secret of Chimneys and am already looking forward to next week's episode.

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