I confessed that having read most of Agatha Christie's mysteries, and a fan of other mysteries as well, I correctly predicted the true killer and victim of the murder of one Mrs Heather Badcock in The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side.
In this novel, Ms Marple was many years older (30 years after her first appearance in Murder in the Vicarage). She was necessarily less physically active but her mind was as keen as ever.
The title was taken from Alfred Tennyson's the Lady of Shalot:
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' Cried
The Lady of Shalott.
It referred to the face of actress Marina Greggs, observed shortly before Heather Badcock died from drugged wine glass which was originally meant for Marina.
The setting was Ms Marple's village of St Mary Mead, the scene of the crime was Gossington Hall, the very same mansion in which a previous death was discovered many years before in the novel The Body In The Library. The Hall had passed through several hands since the Bantrys in the earlier novel. In this novel, it was just renovated by the new owners; film director Jason Rudd and his wife Marina Greggs. Marina Greggs was making a comeback after several years of recovering from a breakdown due to giving birth to a mentally deficient child.
On the day of the crime, Gossington Hall was venue to a local fete and there were numerous visitors. Ms Marple herself however, did not appear at the Hall until much later. However, she was informed of the events and interviews by many other people, some like local "gossip" of Mrs Bantry her old friend and Ms Knight her companion, others more official like Chief Inspector Dermot Craddock who apparently continued to hold enormous respect for Ms Marple's insight. Readers were not always told the specific words given to Ms Marple, but they were given first hand accounts of the interviews.
Several crucial clues were given in very subtle manner but they would only be meaningful to readers who did not start on the wrong premises. I was fortunate enough to bring with me the skepticism developed as a mystery fan not to take anything at face value and hence I was able to come to the conclusion pretty fast. That however did not diminish the pleasure I derived from reading the book.
Another aspect which made this novel interesting was Agatha Christie introduced new types of characters, or at least characters with fresh and different portrayals. One of her maxim was either a study of the victim, or a study of the crime, or a study of the culprit, would reveal all. Readers could use 2 of the above to solve the crime for themselves.