Any serious student of Literature cannot express unfamiliarity of English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright Agatha Christi (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976). She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. Her two famous fictional detective characters are known as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Similarly, she has also written the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, titled The Mousetrap (opened in 1952) and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. Guinness World Records lists Agatha Chrstie as the best-selling novelist of all times. Recently, I read her murder mystery novel “Mirror Cracked from side to side” and I thought to share my impressions and a brief introduction of the novel to general readers in Pakistan. According to Index Translationum, Agatha Christi remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. I am personally aware of Urdu translations of following novels of Agatha Christie as stated by Mirza Hamid Baig in his book title “Urdu Mein Tarjumay ki Riwayat”: Murder in Mesopotamia (1936; Translator: Kamal Ahmed Rizvi), Appointment with Death (1938; Translator: Kamal Ahmed Rizvi), Crooked House (1949; Translator: Nasir Ali Zaidi), Evil Under the Sun (1941; Translator: Saddique Ahmed), and Destination Unknown (1954; Translator: Akhter Rehmani). Let’s, talk about the novel!!!!! “Mirror Cracked from side to side” is a detective fiction written by Agatha Christie. The title was taken from Lord Tennyson’s poem “The lady of Shallot” which suggests that the various cracks symbolize various clues that lead to a single point that is the mysterious killer. This novel was first published in 1962 in England. In America it was published in 1963 under the title of “The Mirror Crack’d”. It has been widely read over the years and has been adopted several times for movies and TV series. First it was adopted for movie in 1980 and then for TV series in 1992. The novel is set in a small village of St. Mary Mead with all the traditional surroundings of peace and quietness. People are acquainted with their neighbors and are concerned about each other. The characters of each profession well represent their class. Inspector Craddock is very much concerned about his duty. “I don’t want to fail” says he to senior Miss Marple. Miss Marple proves her high intelligence by solving the mystery while sitting in the comfort of her home. Marina Gregg is a competent actress who can make use of her skills to win her goals. The story follows third person narration but is mostly set in the form of dialogues which allows the author to “show” the inner personalities of characters and not merely “narrate” it. Heather Badcock, a nice loving lady attends fete at the residence of her movie’s idol Marina Gregg. In the midst of hustle and bustle, Mrs Badcock is found deadly poisoned. Everyone is shocked and surprised. “Who is the murderer?” and “Who was the intended victim?” is what the people are caught up with. While the local police are investigating from one side, Miss Jane Marple a highly intelligent detective solves the riddle from the other way around. A perfect murder mystery I would rather call it. The introduction of clues in tits and bits allowed me to participate in the investigation process. While reading the novel I suspected one character after the other as the actual killer that is, suspense is profoundly preserved till the last pages of the novel. The climax of the story is filled with wonder in which the obvious seeming criminals are murdered. The most interesting part is the solution of the mystery. It looks so simple and obvious in the end. In my view, this is one of the best books for crime fiction lovers. It’s linear plot, simple diction and daily life conversations make it easy to read and enjoy. I deliberately leave the murderer unmentioned in my review for you to discover for yourself and enjoy.
Reviewed by: Shah Usman Riwayat Introduction; Student of Literature and interested in Crime Fiction