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Series / Marple

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From left to right: Miss Marple

Marple (stylized as Agatha Christie: Marple or Agatha Christie's Marple) is a TV series featuring the amateur detective Miss Marple created by Agatha Christie. The series is made by ITV and has aired six seasons of 3-4 movie-length episodes from 2004 to 2014. Geraldine McEwan played Miss Marple in the first three seasons, succeeded by Julia McKenzie in the remaining three.

The series has not restricted itself to adapting Christie's Miss Marple novels; as early as the second season it began including episodes based on novels featuring other less famous detectives, who in the Marple adaptations are either written out or given secondary roles. Even the episodes that are based on Marple novels are adapted loosely, often changing plot details and even the identity of the murderer.

    List of episodes 
  1. "The Body in the Library"
  2. "The Murder at the Vicarage"
  3. "4.50 From Paddington"
  4. "A Murder Is Announced"


  1. "Sleeping Murder"
  2. "The Moving Finger"
  3. "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"
  4. "The Sittaford Mystery"


  1. "At Bertram's Hotel"
  2. "Ordeal by Innocence"
  3. "Towards Zero"
  4. "Nemesis"


  1. "A Pocket Full of Rye"
  2. "Murder is Easy"
  3. "They Do It With Mirrors"
  4. "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"


  1. "The Pale Horse"
  2. "The Secret of Chimneys"
  3. "The Blue Geranium"
  4. "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side"


  1. "A Caribbean Mystery"
  2. "Greenshaw's Folly"
  3. "Endless Night"

This series contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Miss Marple herself is equipped with a romance backstory where she cast away a man she loved because he was married and she urged him to uphold his responsibilities.
    • 4:50 From Paddington does this to almost every character. The lecherous old man who called his wife stupid becomes a grieving widower. The cocky, smug artist of the book publicly announces he's an artistic failure and breaks down crying in front of his father in the film. The shady businessman type also breaks down crying after his disappeared accomplice. The prim politician detests his exaggeratedly unattractive wife and bitterly resents his parents' happiness. A minor, happily married character is given a sordid backstory of sexual assault. The central murder of the book becomes "a crime born of love." Even Mrs McGillicuddy is given her share of tragedy in the form of unrequited feelings.
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    • At Bertram's Hotel has a band of bored thieves becoming avengers of the Holocaust and a greedy teenager in love with a dashing racing driver becoming a closeted lesbian racked with guilt over persuading her beloved girl to go for a swim in the river (where Elvira ended up not swimming with her), where she caught polio and was left with a paralysed arm.
    • The Body in the Library: ITV's intepretation of Mark Gaskell is a lot more sympathetic than what's shown in the original novel. For one, the death of his wife seems to affect him more greatly in the adaptation than it did in the books. This particular adaptation also turns him into a former RAF soldier who fought in WWII, and there are several hints that he's suffering from shell-shock and Survivor Guilt (because two of his best friends were killed during the war), which turns him into a gambling addict. The fact that he's innocent of the crime he committed in the original books just ramps up his misery even further.
    • The Moving Finger has an old military man commit suicide because of his taboo sexual orientation (unclear whether gay or bisexual), and turned Jerry's injuries into self-inflicted ones from a failed suicide.
    • A Murder is Announced turns the happy relationship of Mrs. Swettenham and her son into a creepy possessive one, removes the son's mild love story and adds an angsty one between the mother and an alcoholic colonel. Mitzi's attention-seeking histrionics are replaced with quiet contempt and bitterness, to the point of completely eliminating her role as comic relief.
    • By The Pricking of My Thumbs, an adaptation of a Tommy and Tuppence novel, turns Tuppence into a resentful, flask-carrying alcoholic who is jealous of Tommy's successful spying career, while she got sidelined because of her pregnancy. In the books, she remained a successful spy even after having children, and never lost her cheerful, tenacious personality.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Inverted in A Murder Is Announced; Mitzi is toned down considerably.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the novel The Body in the Library, Mark Gaskell is an unscrupulous gambler and has a generally unpleasant personality. In the 2004 adaptation, he's still a gambler and is brutally honest, but he's otherwise a very nice person, shows great respect to Miss Marple, and is a former war hero. He's also not the murderer in this continuity.
    • In the novel The Sittaford Mystery, John Burnaby is the murderer; the adaptation's equivalent character, Enderby, is innocent, albeit only loosely based on the novel's counterpart, being an old ex-soldier and Trevelyan's closest friend.
    • Victoria in the A Caribbean Mystery novel was just a greedy blackmailer who knew too much. The series expands her role to an accomplice who was hired by the murderer to drive his wife insane, but several scenes make it clear that she felt awful about it and that she only agreed because she was desperate for money to care for her sick child.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In A Murder Is Announced, Bunny is still noticeably scattered, but a lot less so than other adaptations and the book.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In A Murder Is Announced, Edmund Swettenham is an altogether more bitter and unpleasant boy than in the book, and resentful of his mother's relationship. It doesn't help that his clever plot with Inspector Craddock and his tender relationship with Phillipa Haymes are taken out.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • Clara Swettenham is renamed Sadie in the adaptation of A Murder Is Announced.
    • Two characters from The Sittaford Mystery swap surnames: Charles Enderby and John Burnaby become Charles Burnaby and John Enderby. With the change in the murderer's identity, this name change serves to retain the novel's association of the surname Burnaby with the guilty party. Also, Trevelyan's first name is changed from Joseph to Clive.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Mitzi in A Murder Is Announced. The book implies she is a German Jew; the 2005 Marple version implies she is from Nazi-occupied Poland.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The killer in 4:50 from Paddington is much more sympathetic than in the original novel. Here, his motive is his love for Emma and not his desire for the Crackenthorpe fortune.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • The adaptation of The Body in the Library makes Josie a lesbian, and she is having an affair with Adelaide instead of Mark, as was in the books. This change in dynamics results in an Adaptational Villainy and Adaptational Heroism for the respective characters, as the two lovers/partners-in-crime were accomplices in the murder of Ruby Keene, while the other sibling was innocent.
    • In the adaptation of A Murder Is Announced, a subtle lesbian subtext in the original novel is made much more explicit.
    • In At Bertram's Hotel, Elvira is desperate for money in order to marry a dashing racecar driver; in the episode she's a closeted lesbian, and needs the money to take care of her partially crippled lover.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In A Murder Is Announced, Mitzi tries to kill Miss Blacklock in righteous outrage during the Summation Gathering.
    • In The Sittaford Mystery, Charles Enderby, renamed Charles Burnaby, was innocent in the book but is the murderer of Trevelyan in this adaptation. Trevelyan himself is given a sordid backstory involving killing a man and seducing and abandoning his sister, something not present in the novel.
    • In Ordeal By Innocence, Rachel Argyle goes from a very sweet and loving (if a little insensitive and dominating) mother in the novels, into a harsh and unloving shrew who belittles her husband and disapproves of her children's growing relationship with each other in the series.
    • In Sleeping Murder, Helen Kennedy Halliday goes from a nice young lady whose only crime is being so beautiful that her own half-brother falls in love with her to being a jewel thief living under a false identity. However, it's hinted that both were part of her efforts to escape said half-brother.
    • In At Bertram's Hotel, Canon Pennyfather goes from a kindly, forgetful vicar to a Nazi war criminal in disguise.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In A Murder Is Announced, there is no mention of Edmund finally getting published, as he did in the book; he remains stuck in the stereotype of "useless rich boy with writing hobby".
  • Adapted Out:
    • The adaptation of The Body in the Library removes two of the "detectives" involved in the case — Inspector Slack and Sir Henry Clithering — presumably to keep the spotlight more focused on Miss Marple. Hugo McLean, Adelaide's admirer, is also omitted.
    • The adaptation of The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side removes Marina's butler Giuseppe.
    • Angus MacWhirter doesn't appear in the adaptation of Towards Zero, with Miss Marple taking over most of his role in solving the case.
    • James Pearson's other relatives do not appear in the adaptation of The Sittaford Mystery.
    • Although he's not taken out completely, Miss Marple takes over most of Tommy's original role in By The Pricking of My Thumbs.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: While 4.50 from Paddington has every male in Rutherford Hall express some interest in Lucy Eyelesbarrow, as it was in the book, the episode mirrors the previous BBC adaption in that there are only two men with a serious chance at her - Bryan Eastley and Inspector Tom Campbell. The ending has her chose Campbell.
  • Age Lift:
    • Hinch and Murgatroyd from A Murder Is Announced go from being late middle-aged to in their forties.
    • Luke Fitzwilliam from Murder Is Easy is aged down from a retired police officer to a young, active one.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: In The Sittaford Mystery, Charles Burnaby is revealed to be the biological child of Trevelyan, and harbours hatred for him on account of his past sins.
  • Awkward Kiss: Between Jerry Burton and Elsie Holland in The Moving Finger.
  • Bad Habits: Canon Pennyfather in At Bertram's Hotel turns out to be a Nazi war criminal.
  • Betty and Veronica: In The Moving Finger, the quirky Megan Hunter is the Betty to the elegant and drop dead gorgeous Elsie Holland's Veronica.
  • Blackmail: Attempted by Ella in The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. She calls up people left right and center to tell them she saw them poison Heather's drink. She eventually reaches the correct person, and gets killed for her pains.
  • Bookends: The opening shot of The Murder at the Vicarage scans across Miss Marple's dressing table; among the items is a copy of Raymond Chandler's The Simple Art of Murder. The final shot is another scan of her dressing table after an unspecified time has passed; Miss Marple has moved on to Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • In The Body in the Library, this happens to Peter Carmody when his mother, who got an Adaptational Villainy, was arrested for the murder of Ruby Keene and Pamela Reeves, and his usual cheerful and enthusiastic demeanour was replaced by a blank look of despair when the case was closed.
    • Gwenda Vaughn in Ordeal by Innocence. At the start of the episode, she's radiantly happy about marrying the man she's silently loved for years and becoming part of a real family at last, and excitedly inviting her former employer Miss Marple to her wedding. By three-quarters of the way through her wedding has been cancelled — the day before, no less — and her new family has flipped on a dime to consider her guilty of murder, though no one has actually come out and said it, which probably makes it even worse. It's heavily implied that she would have committed suicide if she hadn't been murdered instead.
  • Brick Joke: In The Murder at the Vicarage adaptation. In his first interview with Miss Marple, Inspector Slack asks whether she is hard of hearing, and she replies it's excellent. After the inquest a week or so later, Miss Marple is hobbling away (she's walking with a cane due to a sprained ankle) and Inspector Slack mutters to his constable that (thanks to her being the Little Old Lady Investigates) he doesn't know whether to give Miss Marple a box of chocolates or kick away her walking stick. From across the parking lot, Miss Marple calls over her shoulder, 'I'd prefer the chocolates.'
  • Bungled Suicide: The backstory behind Jerry's injuries in The Moving Finger.
  • Bury Your Gays: Even considering this is a murder mystery, the survival rate of characters who get an adaptational sexuality change/confirmation is astonishingly low. Aside from Psycho Lesbian murderers who will presumably be hanged for their crime, there's Colonel Appleton from The Moving Finger (committed suicide over a forbidden relationship), Robbie from Endless Night (dying of an illness), Miss Murgatroyd from A Murder is Announced (killed after realising the murderer's identity).
  • The Cameo: Robert Hardy appears in an early scene of The Sittaford Mystery as Winston Churchill.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence adds the character of Bobby, the fraternal twin to Jack Argyle.
    • At Bertram's Hotel adds numerous characters: an inspector, a maid who becomes Miss Marple's assistant, a maid who blackmails the killer, a solicitor, a fashion designer, identical twin thieves, a singer and her friend Louis Armstrong.
    • Of the twenty-three episodes, Miss Marple herself doesn't appear in nine of the books they're based on; given that "The Blue Geranium" and "Greenshaw's Folly" were both adapted successfully, it raises the question as to why more of the Marple short stories weren't adapted instead.
  • Composite Character: Why Didn't They Ask Evans? combines Sylvia's husband Henry Bassington-ffrench and his wealthy friend John Savage into a single character named Jack Savage.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: In Towards Zero, a character named Thomas Royd (played by Julian Sands) wears a glove on his useless right hand. He's asked about it at dinner, and he explains that he got caught in a doorway during an earthquake when he was a child.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: In A Murder Is Announced, Patrick lights his cigarette from the candles on a birthday cake.
  • Darker and Edgier: In most Miss Marple mysteries, the culprits are last seen being driven away in a police car while the titular character makes a brief remark on morality/crime/psychology. Normally, the criminal's attitude is fairly dignified, either a rueful variant of "well played, ma'am", or "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that meddling old woman!" This adaptation draws attention to the fact that the outcome of being found guilty of murder in this time period was execution. We see several criminals panicking or shuddering in their cells, screaming, struggling and crying as they are taken to their execution, and occasionally see the execution itself. In cases where the motive was due to a love affair, we see the condemned screaming or calling out to their lover as they are taken away from the crime scene, or when they are about to be hanged.
  • Dead Animal Warning: In Endless Night, Ellie discovers a dead bird with a threatening message pinned to it on her doorstep as part of a campaign of harassment aimed at her.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • In The Sittaford Mystery, the killer (who was not the killer in the original novel) commits suicide after being unmasked.
    • Gwenda Vaughan is murdered instead of Philip Durrant in Ordeal By Innocence.
    • At the end of Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Roger and Moira attempt one final murder and are both killed in the ensuing struggle. In the novel, Moira was arrested while Roger got away scot-free.
  • Did Not Get the Girl:
    • Bryan Eastley in 4:50 from Paddington.
    • James Pearson in The Sittaford Mystery, in contrast to the original novel. Emily Trefusis declines his proposal and goes travelling to Argentina.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: A significant proportion of episodes are derived from Agatha Christie novels that originally contained no Miss Marple.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: The first indication that Jerry wasn't successful in his suicide attempt, which nicely segues into the title screen of The Moving Finger.
  • Foot Popping: Happens during Jerry and Megan's Big Damn Kiss at the end of The Moving Finger.
  • Frame-Up: In The Sittaford Mystery, James Pearson is framed by the killer for the blackmailer's murder.
  • Gaussian Girl: In The Moving Finger points out which woman has caught Jerry's eye by giving her a gaussian shot. The first is the beautiful Elsie Holland, though later Megan Hunter gets one when Jerry comes to the realisation that he has feelings for her.
  • Genre Savvy: Inspector Finch in The Secret of Chimneys, who's considered to be the great genius of Scotland Yard. He's heard of Miss Marple and knows how she constantly solves crimes on her own, humiliating his colleagues. He researches her thoroughly, and when she shows up at his crime scene, he immediately asks for her assistance so that they can solve the crime together.
  • Gold Digger: Implied for Emily Trefusis in this adaptation of The Sittaford Mystery. Not only did she break off an engagement to Marple's nephew Raymond in order to get together with the James Pearson (who she only knew thanks to Raymond introducing the two of them in the first place), but the end of the story has her reject the now disinherited James's proposal in order to go jetting off the Buenos Aires with the newly minted (and newly rich) Mrs. Trevelyan. Though in fairness, James was a useless spendthrift drunk and she could have just as easily come to her senses and realized that he'd be a terrible husband with or without money.
  • Historical Domain Character:
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: The adaptation of the Tommy and Tuppence novel By the Pricking of My Thumbs contains a what-if scenario where Tuppence had to turn down a recruitment offer from MI6 to look after her and Tommy's children. The bitterness and loss of self-confidence leads her to become a functional alcoholic.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The series began as simply Marple but is now officially Agatha Christie's Marple.
  • In Name Only: Very few episodes of the series adapt Christie's stories faithfully, most of the episodes are Pragmatic Adaptation at best, while the other ones are nearly unrecognizable at worst.
    • The series' adaptation of The Secret of Chimneys shares a few character names with the original source material, but pretty much everything else has been changed: the relationship between the characters, the identities of the victim (actually a Canon Foreigner) and murderer, and even the background/setting. In fact, it might as well be an original story, since one would hardly recognise any elements from the original novel.
    • The adaptation of The Sittaford Mystery similarly made an extraordinary number of changes to the novel, altering the murder motive, the circumstances of the murder, the identity of the murderer, the characters' personalities, backstories, situations and relationship dynamics, and the whole atmosphere, as well as adding Canon Foreigners including an appearance of Winston Churchill.
    • The adaptation of Murder is Easy heavily changes the personalities and roles of the characters (even with the inclusion of Miss Marple as Canon Foreigner). Motive of the murders is completely different, the murderer herself is almost unrecognizable. Not to mention that many of the characters and sub-plots are Adapted Out. The tone is admittedly Darker and Edgier than the novel's.
    • Nemesis episode is also only very loosely based on the eponymous novel. The plot goes in very different ways with heavily altered characters. The motive for the murders is also different and nearly everything about the murderer and victims is changed.
    • At Bertram's Hotel episode also drastically changes the plot and the characters, many of which are Canon Foreigner. As in many other episodes, the personality and motives of the murderer is completely different and this time involves Adaptational Sexuality. With the inclusion of many new characters, brand new sub-plots were created.
    • Why Didn't They Ask Evans? episode is also heavily altered compared to the novel, the least of the changes would be inclusion of Miss Marple. The events and plot theads are changed substantially. The characters have different personalities.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Lettice in the ITV version of The Murder at the Vicarage would like to make it clear that her name is not pronounced the same way as the vegetable.
  • It's Personal:
  • Large Ham: Just about every suspect in The Pale Horse except the one who actually did it.
  • Maybe Ever After: In A Murder Is Announced, it's left ambiguous whether Patrick and Emma get together. In the original novel, she rejects him.
  • Monochrome Apparition: In the adaptation of The Sittaford Mystery, the ghost of murder victim Clive Trevelyan appears in shades of bluish grey at the end of the episode. At the very beginning of the show, Trevelyan himself is shown to be haunted by the ghostly apparition of the mother of his child, who he abandoned in Egypt a quarter of a decade prior.
  • Mythology Gag: Near the end of The Sittaford Mystery, James Pearson demands the chance to make a confession to Major Enderby - that he was the one who manipulated the glass during the séance to proclaim that Trevelyan would die that night. The Major's complete incredulity that this is what Pearson sees as an important confession becomes hilarious when you realise that, in the novel, the Major was the one who messed with the séance, and that interfering with it in the first place played a vital part in his plot to murder Trevelyan.
  • Never One Murder: In The Sittaford Mystery, the murderer kills a blackmailing witness.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Tina and Micky Argyle in Ordeal by Innocence.
  • Not His Sled: Several episodes of Marple change the identity, motive, etc. of the murderer.
  • Not What It Looks Like: From an audience perspective. In A Murder Is Announced, Patrick and Emma kiss long before it's explained, or even hinted at, that she is Emma, not Julia.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in The Sittaford Mystery. Violet Willett shares her first name with Violet Hopkins, the woman Trevelyan had a relationship with years ago. Lampshaded. Becomes a relevant plot point, as Trevelyan thought he found his "second chance of happiness" in Violet Willett and the two are secretly married.
  • Promoted to Love Interest:
    • In the adaptation of The Sittaford Mystery, Emily requites Charles' love early on, and the two begin a romantic relationship. At least until he is revealed as the murderer, to Emily's horror, subverting the trope.
    • Inverted in A Murder Is Announced — Philippa and Edmund's relationship is completely taken out.
    • In Sleeping Murder, Gwenda Halliday/Reed's husband becomes a fiancee who never actually appears. Instead, Canon Foreigner Hugh becomes her confidant and aide in the investigation, and at the end of the episode, she becomes engaged to him instead.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Just about every lesbian couple in the adaptations, with a few exceptions, turned out to be this, especially if they were subject to Relationship Reveal.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Eileen "Bundle" Brent and Virginia Revel the two main female characters in The Secret of the Chimneys are sisters in the TV adaptation. In the books, Virginia was an important guest to a party hosted in Eileen's home, but the two weren't related.
    • In Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Roger and Moira are revealed to be brother and sister instead of husband and wife, and Sylvia is their biological mother.
  • Role Swap AU: The Body in the Library switches the roles of Adelaide Jefferson and Mark Gaskell as the murderer and Josie Turner's lover and accomplice.
  • Setting Update: The novels came out over a period of several decades; to avoid Comic-Book Time, the series is set over a much shorter period, requiring a setting update or downdate for most of the episodes.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Jerry Burton in The Moving Finger, to paraphrase his sister, came through the war with flying colours yet seems to find the peace utterly crushing.
  • Sibling Switch Squick: Sort of. In the book of A Murder Is Announced, Colonel Easterbrook has a wife named Laura, who is young enough to be his daughter. In the 2005 version, Colonel Easterbrook's wife does not appear and it's established that he has an estranged daughter named Laura.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Megan Hunter in The Moving Finger, who starts off wearing outfits more suited to a schoolgirl than a woman of 20 and gradually adopts a sleeker, more modern look over the course of the film. While this change symbolises her growing up in the wake of her mother's death, it also coincides with her moving from 'oddball friend' to Love Interest in Jerry's eyes.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Harold Crackenthorpe in 4:50 from Paddington.
    • Philip Durrant survives Ordeal By Innocence, and Gwenda dies in his place. The attempted murder on Tina is also ommitted.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The Moving Finger has this twice over - first there's the suicide of Colonel Appleton, which is immediately followed by Jerry's unsuccessful attempt.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: In Nemesis, the killer steals the clothes from a scarecrow to wear during a murder and later plants the clothes in another suspect's suitcase to frame them.
  • Summation Gathering: In A Murder Is Announced. It plays out somewhat differently from the original novel, with the killer being confronted in the gathering rather than being caught making another murder attempt outside the room.
  • Survivor Guilt: Mark Gaskell in The Body in the Library. He's best friends with Mike Carmody (Adelaide's first husband), who died in the war, and Frank Jefferson (Addie's second husband), who was killed in a missile attack along with Mark's own wife Rosamund. In his conversation with Miss Marple, he reflected how it was wrong for Mike to die first before he could see his unborn child, and expresses regret that he didn't show as much affection towards his wife as he ought to have done. He also felt that his father-in-law resented him for being the one who "pulled through". It's implied at the end, when he promises Peter, "I'll take care of you" after his mother is arrested, that it might be the making of him; he's finally found a reason to live, and an answer to the question "why was I spared?": to look after his friend's son.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Par for the course of Marple adaptations, with Marple herself often lamenting over their motives or guilt when finding them out. Even during the rather personal case in A Murder Is Announced she expects rather ruefully that Charlotte Blacklock didn't enjoy murdering her friend Bunny. She didn't.
  • You Meddling Kids: As per norm, more than a few culprits curse Marple's interfering as they are taken away into custody. In The Pale Horse in particular, the culprit is outright dragged away screaming blue murder at her after she merges it with a very sharp "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Villain Ball: The suspect is given a strange one in the series adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence. Kirsten manages to frame Gwenda for the murder of Rachel, leaving both the police and the Argyle family to be largely convinced she is guilty, only for Kirsten to kill her anyway as she sets to leave. This eliminates Gwenda from the suspect list and ultimately leads Kirsten to be caught. Even Marple's deduction that she hated Gwenda for butting into the Argyle's affairs makes little sense since she had essentially assured she would be jailed and executed anyway.
  • Wacky Cravings: At one point in The Murder at the Vicarage, Griselda Clement (the vicar's wife) asks for apricot chutney to season her fish stew, from which Miss Marple deduces that Griselda is pregnant.


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