Sleep Murder and Hallelujah Corner

by Andrea Elizabeth

In searching for an audible version of Agatha Christie’s Mrs. Marple to listen to while I cross stitch, I came across a dramatized podcast of “Sleep Murder” very well done on Old Time Radio on iTunes. The main character is from New Zealand with quite a fitting accent. I just love Mrs. Marple’s quiet, sweet, unassuming clarity, which is just the perfect accompaniment to “The Lady and the Unicorn” iced-in weekend cross stitching.

So I subscribed to Old Time Radio Dramas (there’s also Thrillers, Mysteries, Comedies, Detectives, Westerns and Adventures) and then listened to the first thing that popped up, Lux soap’s “Hallelujah Corner”. I just noticed it has no popularity bars. I’m glad I didn’t know that before. The acting and voicing are really well done, but the characters and plot are not very likeable. I could also appreciate the nuances actors gave to the story-telling. I want to hear what the emotions sound like, at least these old-timey ones. As much as I’ve tried to wean myself from my melodramatic formation, it’s still home to me. It’s also interesting how you can hear a character’s virtue in the actor’s voice. I wish the podcasts told when the productions were made. All I know is this one is made in South Africa. Hey, Memory Eternal President Mandela! I kept listening to this one because despite it not being likeable, it was well written. The two good characters are sort of alone in their goodness, but the one says he likes the poor, simple, desperate people of Hallelujah Corner. He says they never really had a chance. But yet he and the other good character came from there, so what was their chance at goodness?

It was so different from the charming Agatha Christie story, which also shows her typical prowess in creating so many diverse characters. In it there was only one bad person. The rest were likeable, if also pitiable. They all have a defect, except the sleuth, but it is so lovingly explained and really only adds to their charm, except for the murderer, whose unforgiveable defect is not understanding and seeing the charm of the victim.

A recurring piece of advice in “Sleep Murder” is, shouldn’t you let sleeping dogs lie? Investigating murder is usually very upsetting, and do you really need to put yourself through it? The main character thinks the deceased victim needs her to, and the New Zealand lady is eventually helped by it, but uncovering trauma is very traumatic. This is why people are cautioned when beginning the practice of the Jesus Prayer. It can uncover old wounds. Repression is sometimes a mercy, but it is not health. Still we need a cushion. If not the cushion of distancing ourselves from the memory, then the cushion of a companion and helper alongside us to help us face it. I suppose grace is the imparted strength, comfort, and forgiveness of another. Miss Marple is good at that.