The Murder at the Vicarage

Fontana : Paperback : 1970 : Crime Fiction : 189 pages

I have always wanted to dabble with a bit of Miss Marple. Even though I work in criminal law, funnily enough crime/detective fiction has never really appealed (perhaps a bit too close to reality!) For 2012, I thought it was about time that changed and, seeing Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage peeking out on the trestle table of a local charity shop, I took it as a sign and snaffled it up. (for just 50p!)

The quaintly named village of St Mary Mead is home to Miss Jane Marple; avid gardener, gossip and busybody extraordinaire. Joined by a colourful cast of clucking spinsters, wayward artists and gruff country folk, local vicar Leonard Clement narrates a sinister tale; Colonel Lucius Protheroe has been murdered, shot through the head in the Vicar’s very own study.   An intensely disliked figure, Clement and Marple lead the charge in discovering who, out of Protheroe’s many enemies, could have had the gumption to sneak into the heart of the community and take the lethal shot…

Luckily, Agatha Christie was everything I expected/hoped for and more. Although not a high brow literary affair (who NEEDS that over the holidays anyway!?) Christie is a classic of crime/detective fiction, or, as I prefer to categorise these kind of stories – the ‘WHODUNNIT’ canon – and is basically just a bit of fun. The characters are hilarious and I imagine have helped fuel many stereotypes of more recent fiction/comedies/sitcoms, etc – i.e; the bungling police officer (Detective Slack – slack by name, slack by nature!), the harmless local tart, respectful parson and, of course, our favourite busybody. Murder becomes a delightful Cluedo mystery and the crudely drawn maps and plans of the village merely add to the quaintness and fun of it all.  Great thing is, despite the highly formulaic plot, I still didn’t guess whodunnit! I have always been absolutely rubbish (unlike Mummy Relish) at dissecting the plots of books and films (the only person in the cinema who was shocked at The Sixth Sense…) and my ignorance makes the entertainment of The Murder at the Vicarage all the more thrilling.

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Only thing I didn’t like Agatha – please stop trying to tell me just how logical and wonderful gentlemen are in comparison with their female companions – I know you’re a 1930s girl but I am a modern lady after all and it did start to bug me towards the end!


9 thoughts on “The Murder at the Vicarage

  1. Glad you managed to get to Christie at last Lucy, especially as you started with Miss Marple and I believe the first one in the series, doubly well done. Some of Christies other standalone books are brilliant, I thought ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans’ was pure brilliance, and kind of camp too. Oddly I have never warmed to Hercule Poirot and apparently Agatha herself got sick of him!


    1. Funny that, my Mum prefers Poirot. Perhaps you have to be all about one or the other 🙂 I’m chuffed I read The Murder at the Vicarage as the first Marple one as it was totally accidental! Meant to be 😀


  2. I often guess whodunnit in more modern crime/mystery novels but am always left at least a little bit surprised at the end of a Christie. Think I prefer Poirot to Miss Marple though, but it’s a close call. Think of all the Christies you’ve got waiting to be read now! They must be about as far removed from the reality of working in criminal law as you can get…


    1. It is – but in reality much much more entertaining! 😉 I’m very excited and have been trawling the charity shops ever since my bargain find. My Mum prefers Poirot….I wonder which side I’ll fall onto. Eeee!


  3. Glad to know there is someone else on this planet who never can guess whodunnit. At our book club read of Dissolution – the Tudor period crime novel – there were some smug people saying they had worked it out halfway through so hence it wasn’t a good book. Rubbish. I wanted to say but was too polite


    1. I haven’t read Dissolution yet but I do love a good Tudor book (see ‘Now reading’ ;-)) Worth a look? Particularly if I can just wander naively through it and get a nice shock at the end!
      I’m not good at hiding my feelings at book club 😀 I admire your restraint!


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