The 13 problems is a collection of small stories, told by a group of guests who challenge each other to solve any mysteries or murders that they’ve heard or might have been part of.
It all starts in one evening at Miss Marple’s house and the people in the room deliver their various theories to solve any presented mystery.
1. The lady who is poisoned during dinner
The first story told by Sir Henry is about three people who had dinner and afterwards they fell ill, supposedly of food poisoning, and one died as a result. Mr and Mrs Jones and Miss Clark (wife’s companion) were those people and Mrs Jones died.
Questions: Was Mrs jones poisoned by the husband, who was dependent on wife’s money? Didn’t seem like because they all ate the same at dinner: The Family’s maid confirmed that they all have been served the same meal of lobster, bread and cheese, and trifle. She had also prepared a bowl corn’s pap to Mrs Jones, but as Mr Jones Miss Clark ate it instead.
- Miss Clark didn’t eat the dessert as she was on diet
- Mr Jones being a travelling salesman, left a piece of paper in one of the hotels he was staying and one of the maids mentioned words like : “ wife’s money” and “hundred and thousands”…
2. The Idol House of Astarte
This story is told be Dr Pender (old clergyman) and is about a murder that was committed on a property called “Silent Grove”, which belonged to an old friend (Sir Richard) of Dr. Pender.
It all happened on a customes party given by Sir Richard to a group of people included Dr Pender. Sir Richard’s property contained the grove of Astarte, which gives a mysterious and un-natural, and creepy sphere. The rumors of passed rituals at the place inspired one of the guests – Diana Ashely – to act as Astarte, and for some reason Sir Richard is stabbed and dies. And nobody knows how, leading to supernatural ideas…
How Miss Marple could find the solution is incredible, because everyone is inclined to the dark powers of the forest, although nobody believes in supernatural forces 😊
3. Ingots of Gold
This story is told be Raymond West when he was spending a couple of days with his new friend John Newman, who was a “specialist” in Spanish Armada.
The story evolves around the sunken ships and its treasures, and stories about the “gangs” who found a way to steal/remove the treasure from the remains of the ship. Raymond is staying at his friend place, and hears the amazing stories about Armada from John Newman… They go to a pub where the owner is made suspect because of his attitude.
Later on in the evening Raymond has somber feelings that something bad might happen, and indeed it happens: His friend disappears in the night. In the next day Raymond contacts the police and search will find Newman later in the afternoon tied-up somewhere (he has been taken hostage by the bandits the day before).
The investigation is inclined to suspect the pub’s owner, but unfortunately he could prove his innocence. So the question is: who was involved in this and what happened to his friend?
4. The Blood-Stained Pavement
This story is told by Joyce Lemprière. Joyce is an artist, and in certain day in Cornwall when she was working on her painting she notices that a car arrives with a couple, and a couple of minutes later another car also arrives, but this time only with a woman. The first woman is dressed very normal (somebody you hardly notice) and the last one is woman who gets your attention with a red dress.
While painting Joyce hears part of the conversation between those people: It seems that the woman in red (Carol) knows the man (Denis) from the couple, and they plan to go for a swim or to hire a boat, later on (three of them). In the afternoon Joyce was busy again with her painting, and realized that she painted blood spots in her painting while distracted talking to a local man… And the blood spots were there actually “fresh”…
Denis appeared from nowhere and asks if anyone had seen Carol return. It seems that she didn’t return from the cave where they had earlier met… Few days later in the news is stated that Denis ‘wife was missing due to an accident when swimming.
5. Motive v. Opportunity
This story is told by Mr Petherick , a lawyer. The story goes about an elderly rich client (Simon Clode) who lost his son in the war, and later on his grandchild. With so much grief, he took in his house the three children of his brother who also recently died. At certain point when Mr Clode is founds himself under influence of a spiritual guide who guides him in sessions where he can “talk” with his grandchild ( around this time he is suffering from dementia and very fragile). Of course everybody tries to alert him that the spiritual person is a fraud, but Simon Clode is against the rest of the family.
The development of the story evolves around the new will which was changed just before the Simon Clode died, but when the contents of the will are revealed it takes some people by surprise… Leaving many questions and mystery in the air… But Miss Marple can explain it!
6. The Thumb Mark of St. Peter
Now is the time for Miss Marple to tell her story!
It is about her niece who married a man(Geoffrey Denman) who has psychological history in he family. After a while the man dies – poisoned – and everybody suspects her niece. After checking everything , Miss Marple doesn’t find the solution until she sees a fresh fish on a store, which reminder her of a “”thumb mark of St. Peter”…<I have to confess this part I still don’t understand very well…>
Because of this revelation she realizes that the solution is related to the last words of the man dying. So she got to the conclusion that Geoffrey was poisoned by his father, because he wanted to send his father to an asylum.
7. The Blue Geranium
Mr and Mrs Bantry are now hosting these sessions, and this time the first story is by the host Mr Bantry.
The story goes about an old friend – Mr Pritchard – who had a very annoying, irritating wife who was invalid. She was under care of several nurses, but none was good enough.
One day a new nurse named Copling appears and via her a fortune teller was invited to visit the Mrs Pritchard. This person predicted that evil events would happen in the presence of blue flowers. So Mrs Pritchard started the quest to remove all blue flowers in the house, including the wallpapers with flowers. A specific flower – blue geranium- was of the most importance because it meant “death”. After a couple of weeks of warnings Mrs Pritchard is found death, and only Miss Marple is able to solve the problem.
8. The Companion
The story is told by Dr Lloyd, and it occurred during his staying in Gran Canaria.
It goes about two middle-aged ladies British tourists. The day after hey arrived to the island, a tragedy occurred : one of them(Miss Durant) was swimming and got into trouble, and the other one(Miss Barton) tried to help her without success. Miss Durant drowned. During the investigation, Miss Barton tells that Miss Durant was her companion, but without any other relevant information about Miss Durant. There were many “open” points in the investigation, but unfortunately without any proof the investigation needed to be closed.
Some time later Dr Lloyd reads in a newspaper that Miss Durant committed suicide, due to guilt of what happened to her companion. But her body was never found. Many years later, he finds somebody in Australia who might be able to tell more about this case… Intriguing!
9. The four suspects
Sir Henry tells a story about a spy (Dr Rosen) and four suspects.
Dr Rosen was living in a cottage in Somerset. The agency he was working for was expecting him to be murdered, that’s why people around him (at cottage) were in principle people to be trusted: his niece Greta, an old servant Gertrud, a gardener Dobbs, and his secretary Charles Templeton (one of Sir Henry’s men). But of course after a while Dr Rosen was found dead. How did it happen? It seems impossible how it happened? Who came to the house? Somebody might have received instructions to “attack”… But how?
Dr Rosen received a letter on that day where the word “honesty” was mentioned. Only Miss Marple knows the meaning of those words, and therefore the solution for the enigma!
10. A Christmas tragedy
Miss Marple tells a story which occurred during her staying at Keston during Christmas period. Always trusting her intuitions , she saw a couple which she just knew that the husband would try to murder his wife. Miss Marple could confirm her suspicions along the days based on some “incidents”.
The tragedy really happens after a couple of days and it seemed that the husband had a very solid alibi! It was a tough mystery that Miss Marple could solve again!
11. The Herb of the Death
It was Mrs Bantry’s turn to tell a story. She didn’t want because she doesn’t know and doesn’t have the skills to tell a juice story.
So she was very brief: During her staying at Sir Ambrose Bercy House, many sage leaves were picked up in the garden, together with foxglove leaves. The mixture of the leaves were used to stuff the duck which was served at the dinner. One person died, and it was the protegee of Sir Ambrose. Everybody was well except one… According to experts it is impossible to be a deliberate act of poisoning, otherwise other people would also suffer.
But Miss Marple knows again…
12. The affair at bungalow
Jane Helier, the beautiful actress but not so clever tells now her story. The story is told on a 3rd person but soon because of her constant mistakes, it was very clear it was about herself.
It was a strange story about a man who was arrested due to a burglary in a bungalow. He claims he was there with an invite of Jane Helier, which according to Jane was not true. A very strange case with details about the owners of the house, strange appointments, etc… but no solution at the end. The solution from Miss Marple was only revealed to Jane Helier!
13. Death by Drowning
In another occasion, after some time since the last gathering, Miss Marple pays a visit to Sir Henry when he was staying a couple of days at Bantry’s.
A young woman was murdered, and the police is suspecting a young man who Miss Marple believes is not guilty. Miss Marple tells Sir Henry who is murdered, but she cannot prove. Sir Henry will need to use his influence by the local police to help miss Marple. Very nice story indeed.