Monday, 13 March 2017

The Murder at the Vicarage

Agatha Christie
Harper Collins / Collins Crime Club

Murder at the Vicarage marks the debut of Agatha Christie’s unflappable and much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple. With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage. Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.

It has been a good long while since I had as much fun reading a book as I did with this one.  I've loved the various Miss Marple TV series for years but have never taken the plunge into the novels but when I found a stack of them in the local Oxfam I jumped at them.

Originally published in 1930 this is the first of the Marple books - although not the first published Marple story - and tells the story of the murder of the unpleasant Colonel Protheroe in the vicarage of the town of St Mary Mead.  The story of the investigation is told by the vicar and features a number of wryly funny observations, particularly with regard to the nosiness, insightfulness and mistrust of human nature of his elderly neighbour Miss Jane Marple, saying she 'always knew every single thing that happened and drew the worst inferences.'

Having seen several adaptations I already knew the various twists of the story so as a whodunnit it's effectiveness was difficult to gauge but it was assuredly, most satisfyingly convoluted but it was the unexpected humour that had me laughing aloud at several points that made this a real joy to read.

Buy it here: The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple)

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