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Miss Marple, Series II
Production Notes Story Synopsis Who's Who Geraldine McEwan Interview Filling Miss Marple's Shoes Agatha Christie Links + Bibliography Discussion Miss Marple, Series II Home MYSTERY! Home Sleeping Murder
Story Synopsis [imagemap with 9 links]

Story Synopsis

Plot Revealed Below!

Southampton, 1952.

Gwenda Halliday -- fiancée to the millionaire Charles Vanstone -- arrives in England from India. She is met by Hugh Hornbeam, who works for her Vanstone, and together they set off to find a suitable English home for Charles and Gwenda's future married life. Following Gwenda's instincts, they head to the coastal town of Dillmouth in Devon. Gwenda is strangely drawn to a picturesque house called Hillside and -- on a whim -- decides to buy it.

As Gwenda sets about redecorating the house, strange things start to happen. She asks for a door to be put in where one had previously been covered over; she decides upon a pattern of wallpaper only to discover that the exact same pattern had been papered over and -- most frighteningly of all -- she has a vision of a woman being murdered. At the behest of Mr. Vanstone, Hornbeam is instructed to find someone to help Gwenda get to the bottom of it all.

Hornbeam introduces Gwenda to family friend Miss Marple at a performance of The Duchess of Malfi. During the performance, Gwenda has another flashback to the murder of a woman at Hillside and, when encouraged by Miss Marple, recalls that the woman's name was Helen.

Miss Marple realizes that Gwenda is recollecting a repressed memory of a murder she had witnessed as a child. Following further investigation, they discover that Gwenda did indeed live in Hillside when she was very young, and that her father Kelvin had moved there after the death of her mother. That is, until his new fiancée Helen suddenly disappeared, leaving only a postcard telling Kelvin not to try to contact her. Kelvin then took his own life and Gwenda was sent to India to live with relatives.

Miss Marple soon tracks down Gwenda's uncle Dr. James Kennedy who immediately takes his newly discovered niece under his wing. She also tracks down Mrs. Paggett, the previous cook at Hillside, who describes the night Helen fled from the house, leaving Kelvin desperate on the eve of their wedding.

They learn that Helen was a singer in an 'end-of-the-pier' musical troupe called The Funnybones. One by one, Gwenda and Hornbeam seek out the group members for questioning. They meet Dickie and Janet Erskine, who were in charge of the troupe and now run the guest house in Dillmouth; Jackie Afflick, the sleazy pianist, and Evie Ballantyne, who now headlines at the Palladium. They also meet shy local solicitor Walter Fane, who was a devoted fan of the Funnybones and a close friend of Helen's. All of them believe Helen fled to start a new life, although none ever knew why. Miss Marple and her fellow sleuths are convinced, however, that Helen was murdered; they waste no time in coaxing local detective Inspector Primer into re-opening the case.

It becomes clear that any one of the suspects had enough motive and opportunity to murder Helen. Furthermore, none of them are being entirely truthful about their whereabouts on the night of the murder. When a vital witness, a former maid to Helen and Kelvin, comes forward and agrees to meet them, they know they are close to the truth. Lily has a bee in her bonnet about what she heard that night as her employers argued. But hopes are dashed and worst suspicions confirmed when Lily is found strangled before she talks to them.

Miss Marple eventually encourages Inspector Primer to gather all the suspects in a room and from there explains what happened on the fateful night the Funnybones parted company, and their beautiful singer disappeared forever: Helen was actually Gwenda's mother. She had faked her own death in India in order to escape the law because of her involvement in a spate of jewel robberies. A rendezvous with her husband and child back in England had all gone wrong when they encountered her possessive brother -- Dr. Kennedy. In a fit of jealousy Kennedy had strangled her and made it look like she had run away. Following her death KelvinJulian Wadham had become suspicious and Kennedy had been forced to kill him as well.

When confronted with his crimes Dr. Kennedy confesses his guilt and reveals where he buried Gwenda's mother. Gwenda lays flowers at her mother's grave and agrees to marry Hornbeam -- the two have fallen in love during the course of their investigation.


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