Tuesday, February 11, 2014

March's Pick: The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The first Miss Marple, the  one which tests all her powers of observation and deduction.
“Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,”declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, “would be doing the world at large a favor!”
It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later—when the Colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But a sMiss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

"The Murder at the Vicarage" is memorable because it introduces the delightful Miss Jane Marple. With her love of gardening, binoculars for bird-watching close-at-hand, and an uncanny ability to find similarities between the present situation and her past experiences and acquaintances, Miss Marple is introduced in her home village of St. Mary Mead. We will return here many times and reacquaint ourselves with the characters introduced in this mystery---the vicar Leonard Clement and his wife Griselda, Mrs. Price Ridley, Colonel Melchett, Dr. Haydock, and others.
The murder victim, Colonel Protheroe, is a hateful man disliked by everyone he had dealings with. Therefore, the list of suspects is much longer than usual. There is the victim's second wife, the visiting artist she loves, a mysterious lady with the telling name of Mrs. Lestrange, a teenage daughter, an archaeologist, and a secretary.
There are plenty of red herrings in this one and it is up to Miss Marple to reveal if the most likely suspect is also the guilty one in this cozy read for those of us who thrive on evil in small village life.

About the Author

Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and became, quite simply, the best-selling novelist in history. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, written towards the end of the First World War, introduced us to Hercule Poirot, who was to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. She is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 100 foreign languages. She is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections, 19 plays, and six novels under the name of Mary Westmacott.