Sleeping Murder

The book has numerous references to 'The Duchess of Malfi' and Gwen and Miss Marple even go and see the play, so I was wondering, as I haven't seen the play, how important it is to the story and what the play is about?


  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    Well, you don't need to know anything about the play to enjoy the book or identify the killer.  There is, however, a clue that points towards the killer if you know a lot about the play, as Miss Marple reveals at the end.  Only the one quote is really important, but you can find out everything you need to know and way more here:
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    The Duchess of Malfi is also mentioned in Caroline Graham's Death Of A Hollow Man and Maud Grimes Old Fox Deceiv'd but with that it is only a quote said by the Detective.
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    You're welcome!
  • I love all MM stories. But Sleeping Murder is one of my  favorites because it deals with a "cold case" so to speak.
  • I think the details and setting in Sleeping Murder is very good. For me, what is clever, good and convincing is the way in which AC presents the awkwardness people feel on being asked about the cold case years after it happened, their embarrassment over what they were like then, the normal human delicacies. It is a real drama, with real human content and interest. I also find the original premise, as usual with Christie, both very satisfactory and clever. You could visit a house which you had known as a very young child, and had sort of forgotten about since. In those immediately post war years, there were not many sizeable houses coming on the market, because they were all in the hands of families who had passed them on down the generations for years beforehand, so I think it feasible that such a coincidence would occur. Although not experiencing quite the same, I am sure we have all, at some time, visited a place which we had not been to for many years, and have felt those curious feelings of familiarity: and those feelings linger with us.
  • I watched the 1987 version of "Sleeping Murder" (with Joan Hickson) yesterday and one of the things that stuck out to me is that the film doesn't have many flashbacks--there is only 1 flashback scene. What does anyone think about that? I know that with many people today, they would consider the lack of flashbacks a letdown and because of that it would probably lose their attention. But because we live in such a fast-paced and microwave society with such a short attention span, a plethora of dialogue like we have in the film that returns to the past would be considered boring. It's just interesting that the film doesn't depend on flashbacks.
  • I think that it was an effective dramatisation. I wonder if we are supposed to think that Gwendoline was a bit confused, and so may have imagined what she thought she remembered. The flash backs might have given credence to her thoughts?? Just an idea.
  • edited June 2016

    Interesting little tidbit about the book. Agatha Christie thought about titling the story "Cover Her Face" but since there was already another book with that same title used by P.D. James, Christie decided to name it Sleeping Murder. I like both titles but Sleeping Murder is probably better, considering the fact that the quote from the Duchess of Malfi is already used in the story. The title fits this murder-in-retrospect mystery, looking back into the past into a murder that has been lying dormant for so many years and is now awaken beginning with Gwenda returning to the house she was brought up in.

  • edited June 2016
    Currently watching the Geraldine McEwan version of "Sleeping Murder" and so far the scenes feel so rushed that it comes out looking utterly ridiculous. And what happened to that line at the theatre during the Duchess of Malfi in which one of the characters, Ferdinand, says "Cover her face, mine eyes dazzle, she died young". Instead we get a scene in which one of the characters of the play gets strangled then we hear this ridiculous line "strangling is a very quiet death", which is not even from the play I don't think. One of the lines that makes Sleeping Murder so memorable is that very line from the Malfi play. Very disappointing to take it out of the film.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I don't remember the Flashback Scene but I am sure I noticed it when I saw it, there is a lot of opportunity for one but perhaps The BBC didn't have the time, It would be lovely if there was one day another version with more Flashback scenes and no theatrical troupe which was an ITV Addition I really hated
  • This is one of my favourite books. I read it as a teenager for the first time (oh dear... so long ago...) and have reread it many times since.

    I loved it when Gwenda phantasized about the wallpaper in a particular room, just to find out that exactly that wallpaper had been on the wall decades ago. Or that she thought there should be an extra doorway in the dining room - and found out that there had actually been a doorway on that exact same spot, that had been bricked up since. It almost felt supernatural...

    Another part I thoroughly enjoyed was when Miss Marple went to the village to do some shopping and to chat with several shopkeepers. This is Miss Marple at her best, a seemingly harmless old lady making some smalltalk, but in the mean time she digs up all the dirt, information and gossip there is in the village, processes it with her razorsharp mind and gets exactly the information she needs.

    Think I am going to read it again soon...

Sign In or Register to comment.