Jane Marple is the original Jack Reacher. Unlike Poirot, who often relied on the police to key him into cases, Miss Marple turned up where she liked, carried out her own investigation and delivered her particular brand of justice before moving on without looking back. True, she has yet to headbutt anyone, but I've still 6 novels and one short story collection to go so, y'know, here's hoping.
They Do It with Mirrors finds Reacher, uh, Marple travelling to a young offenders' reform home to discover what nebulous threat a childhood friend is living under. Tensions, tempers and seemingly-blameless types abound and - before she's even unpacked her knuckle-dusters (just cos you don't see 'em doesn't mean she doesn't have 'em) - there's soon murder in the mix...
I can't shake the feeling that I may have seen the best of Agatha Christie, and the remaining books in her oeuvre will be, like this, agilely-constructed and eminently readable but still a shade rudimentary in the plotting. She plagiarises herself at least four times, and in playing fair with the solution recycles a trick Edmund Crispin used to similarly-underwhelming effect, but it seems a little harsh to hold that against her in her 52nd published work of crime fiction.
I read this in a day and still enjoyed it immensely - she expounds some remarkably modern attitudes towards offenders, relationships, young women exploiting their beauty and the nature of family - and for anyone new to this type of fiction this is a fabulous introduction. Hardier souls have seen better, though, and would expect more.