For an elderly lady, Miss Jane Marple of St. Mary Mead gets around very well. Surprisingly well. Even to her.
“The first letter arrived a few years ago now,” said Miss Marple. “It came from people of whom I had never heard, from a place I had never been–someplace called Exhampton, I think–expressing gratitude for something I had no memory of doing. I wrote back to reply that they must be mistaken and thought no more about it.”
Until other letters started to arrive under the same circumstances.
And it wasn’t simply a matter of fading memory.
“A woman calling herself Jane Marple arrived here in Much Deeping last year and was very helpful in clearing up a problem we were having at the local inn, The Pale Horse,” recalled Inspector Lejuene, who investigated the incident. “Of course I’d never met Miss Marple before, but I have friends at Scotland Yard who know her quite well. I was talking with one of them, and he asked me what village parallel she used to solve the case. I said I didn’t recall her mentioning any village parallels during her entire visit, and my friend nearly fell out of his chair.”
Sources at Scotland Yard believe that an unknown person is traveling from village to village posing as Miss Marple and solving other people’s crimes and mysteries–but creating at least one mystery of her own. Physical descriptions of the impostor vary, suggesting that she might look like anyone from Geraldine McEwan to Julia McKenzie.
“It’s outrageous,” said Raymond West, the noted author and nephew to Miss Marple. “My aunt is in pretty robust health, but she’s not really likely to be traipsing across moors or crawling around people’s gardens at all hours, is she? And yet the accounts we’re hearing suggest this impostor is doing precisely that.”
And it’s not just the ignorant who are deceived. Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, detectives in their own right, had their own encounter with the impostor. “We were having some trouble with my Aunt Ada,” explained Mr. Beresford. “It was good of Miss Marple to help out, but her appearance was rather surprising, to put it mildly,” Mrs. Beresford said. “I’m afraid we were a bit confused, though; neither of us were quite ourselves at the time.”
“Of course in a way, it’s quite flattering,” said Miss Marple, blushing slightly. “I’m inclined to believe this person is well-intentioned. But really I cannot accept these borrowed feathers, as the saying goes. I’m reminded of young Ellie Postlethwaite, a girl in our village who submitted some artwork for a contest in a magazine, only she sent it in using the name of another girl who was already being noticed for her talent. Ellie thought that she would win simply on the strength of the other girl’s name. Of course the work, which was quite good for Ellie, wasn’t up to the other girl’s standard. There was a great deal of fuss and embarrassment before it was all sorted out, and a good deal of embarrassment for Ellie Postlethwaite when it was sorted out.”
The investigation at Scotland Yard continues. Meanwhile, Mr. West, Miss Marple’s nephew, has engaged Hercule Poirot to look into things as well. The Beresfords, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Albert Campion have also expressed an interest in helping out.
“Only too glad to help out, you know,” Lord Peter was quoted as saying. “If it can happen to her, it can happen to any of us.”
For more News Flashes, please visit our main collection.