DISCLAIMER I here confess to reading every single Sherlock Holmes ever written, and about a hundred other mysteries besides.
PLOT Jane Marple, our sleuth, knows she can solve the mystery. It will just happen. Mrs. Mcguillicuddy just happened to witness a murder, but the victim just happened to seem connected to an old mansion, that just happens to need a maid, but the side kick just happens to get a job there, so she can just happen to witness five more deaths, that just happen to occur during a family reunion, that just happens to involve a conversation about old letters, so the gardener can just happen to be burning that day, and our maid can just happen to find a clue, that just happens to lead to the body, so the murderer can just happen to kill two more people, before our heroine just happens to come over for tea, and just happens to get Mrs. Mcguillicuddy to recognize the murderer, from an angle she couldn’t possible be in but that doesn’t matter, because the police just happened to be there already, and thus our sidekick’s upcoming nauptils will, presumably, just happen. The end is quite cheerful, since our murderer just happens to be a nice guy and the courts will probably just happen to let him off, and… oops! Did I just happen to drop my copy? And does that just happen to be a garbage bin? Dear dear… well, these things just happen.
Positives: All the cutting and pasting has to have come from some book she wrote that’s not this bad.
Negatives: The publishing business today operates on the celebrity factor as much as Hollywood, maybe even more. Once an author writes one successful book, it is assumed that the next twenty will be bought by her legions of fans. Publishers make contracts for x-number of books a year, without regard to the quality or content. The problem with that is, most people don’t have enough imagination to write twenty individually good books, let alone two or three times that many. Thus we get books like “What Mrs. Mcguillicuddy Saw!”, that read like a cut-and-paste-with-new-names-and-different-color-coats. The plot is there, but the author clearly did not have enough time to get around to explaining how it all happens. The way the murder is witnessed is next to impossible (clearly designed to give the book its eye-catching title), the reaction of everyone to the murdering spree is pathetic (four out of eight people in the house have been poisoned in the last two days, you say? Well, bring me some more tea, Martha…), and the way the murderer is identified is just plain lazy (the witness “recognizes” the murderer from a completely different angle than she was supposed to have seen him in the first place, in a position she couldn’t possibly have been standing unless she was in the chimney). As if the clichéd writing wasn’t bad enough. Its like the author decided to write an explanation of the title, and then got lazy and just happened to forget how each of the plot lines was resolved.
OVERALL: “What Mrs. Mcguillicuddy Saw!” is a sterling example of the serialization of the book market today. Recommended for those interested in studying the art of lazy writing. Otherwise, you could just happen to get lost in the library and hit the biography section.