Monday, April 29, 2024

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (Miss Marple Mysteries Book One) Read Christie 2024 April Selection


Publication Date:
October 1930

256 pages

This is the first Christie story to feature Miss Marple and for that reason alone I wanted to read it. Reverend Lawrence Clement narrates the story. He is the vicar of St. Mary Mead and lives with his wife Griselda who is a much younger and cheerful lady. His nephew Dennis lives with them. Clement dislikes the church warden he works with, Colonel Protheroe, and that sentiment is shared by many in the village. When Protheroe is shot to death in Clement's office one evening while the vicar is called away, Clement is pulled into finding out who did it and why. 

Prior to the shooting, Clement observed Protheroe's wife, Anne in a romantic encounter with one Lawrence Redding, an artist who is just visiting the village and although he doesn't out them at the time, he now wonders if they had anything to do with the murder. 

The police are unable to narrow down a working timeline of the murder due to conflicting notes and reports of the actual time of the gunshot. Miss Marple, local villager and shrewd amateur detective of sorts has her own theories. She believes there are seven people who could have had the means and motive and begins to zero in on their wherabouts and likelihood of guilt. The hardest clue to discern the answer to is the sound of the gunshot itself. Witnesses claim to have heard the sound coming from the woods, not the vicar's house. Also, at least one of the suspects was seen near the woods, but not carrying a pistol. It is tough for Miss Marple to puzzle out.

Meanwhile, Clement, who despises the Inspector Slack assigned to the case, finds his curate, Hawes, dying from an overdose and confessing to stealing from the church accounts. He also has a note that appears to confirm his guilt. Can Miss Marple narrow her suspect list down to find the real murderer in time? Or is is Hawes?

My Thoughts:
I liked the narration of Clement and his way of thinking. He is an interesting character and it is fun to hear his depictions of his wife and the local, colorful people in the town. Sometimes he doesn't sound much like a vicar in that he is very human, but that is what makes him interesting. Miss Marple doesn't figure in the story nearly as much as him, although we definitely see her personality come through with her sleuthing skills. 

I found the women in the story to be a bit shallow and irritating: Griselda, Clement's wife, Lettice Protheroe, the Colonel's daughter, and Anne Protheroe, the Colonel's wife all seem a bit scatterbrained and helpless. 

I thought the story moved a bit too slowly and had a lot of repetition sometimes when going through the clues but the ending made up for it. It was cleverly done as always and although I did suspect someone correctly I was wrong about the how and why. Overall it turned out to be a good, intriguing story with all the loose ends wrapped up neatly. Everyone who is a Christie fan needs to read it just because it is the first Miss Marple story. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.