Nemesis was the last story Agatha Christie wrote starring Miss Jane Marple, though not the last one to be published. By casting Miss Marple as the Greek Goddess of divine retribution in this novel, Christie crowns her with a final triumph, quite similar to Poirot’s heroic exit from his brilliant career of crime investigation in The Curtain. The fact that this investigation represents Miss Marple’s final glory may be shown by the repeated references to her feeble and frail state of health, especially in the final confrontation between her and the strong-bodied and strong-willed murderer.
The story starts with Miss Marple looking through the newspaper, feeling annoyed that the layout is always changing, making it impossible for one to go to one’s favourite sections in the paper immediately. Then turning the page, she goes on to read the obituaries, remarking that as one grows older, one gradually moves from the columns of marriages and births to the obituaries to find information of one’s friends and acquaintances. There she reads the obituary of a Mr. Jason Rafiel, a rich financier she met on a trip to the West Indies, and an ally with whom she worked to solve the murder recorded in The Caribbean Mystery (1964). Mr. Rafiel was already a sick man then, and knew that he did not have long to live. So Miss Marple receives the news with only sadness.
As she is pondering about the death of Mr. Rafiel, a woman appears at her garden and pretends to admire her plants. When Miss Marple inquires who she is, she vaguely mentions that she is employed by a new resident to work in the garden, and goes away quickly. A few days later, Miss Marple gets a letter from Mr. Rafiel’s lawyers, proposing a meeting. When she arrives, Mr. Broadribb and Mr. Schuster reveal to her a wish Mr. Rafiel made before his death. He has set aside twenty thousand pounds for reward if Miss Marple agrees to investigate a crime and bring justice to the situation within one year. In Mr. Rafiel’s letter to Miss Marple, he mentions her flair for justice and crime, and her self-perceived role as the murderer’s Nemesis. But other than that, no further instruction is given to her. Miss Marple is merely asked whether she will take on the task or not.
After this meeting, the intrigued Miss Marple goes to see Esther, who used to be Mr. Rafiel’s secretary, and whose life she actually saved in The Caribbean Mystery. Esther cannot tell her much about this strange project, only some general information concerning Rafiel’s background. He lost his wife quite some time ago, and has two daughters and a son. One daughter died and the other one is living in the States. Esther knows very little about the son because Rafiel seldom talks about him. A few days later another letter comes, and Miss Marple is informed that she has been registered to go on a “Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Britain” tour. Although Miss Marple has no idea why and what she has to look for...