I’m in a challenge to read all the Agatha Christie mysteries in order of when they were published. In many cases these are re-reads for me. I’ve been a fan since my teens. I’ve read eleven books so far for the challenge, and not until Murder at the Vicarage did I meet Miss Marple. Finally I meet Miss Jane Marple.
She is my favorite of all Ms. Christie’s detectives. Although Miss Marple appeared in two short stories published in magazines in 1927, this is the first novel in which Miss Marple is introduced. In this book she is not necessarily well liked by everyone. She’s considered a busy-body and she thinks the worst of people. Here are some of the descriptions of Miss Marple taken from Murder at the Vicarage:
- Miss Marple is a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner.
- Miss Marple always sees everything. Gardening is as good as a smoke screen, and the habit of observing birds through powerful glasses can always be turned to account.
- In St. Mary Mead everyone knows your most intimate affairs. There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.
- I smiled. For all her fragile appearance, Miss Marple is capable of holding her own with any policeman or Chief constable in existence.
The story of Murder at the Vicarage is told in the first person by the vicar, Len Clement. The village of St. Mary Mead is a quiet, pleasant place. Hardly anything happens there. But, there is one man whom everyone dislikes – Colonel Protheroe.
One day he ends up dead, shot in the head, in the Vicar’s study. The police are called to investigate all the clues but their job is much easier when someone confesses. Of course, the Vicar and his wife and their neighbor, Miss Marple don’t believe the confession. They begin to gather their own information.
Most confusing of all the clues is a note by the body and an over turned clock, as well as the comings and goings of so many people to the Vicarage. Miss Marple believes there are seven people who could have killed Colonel Protheroe. The mystery is – which one of those seven did it, or could it be an eighth person?
This is definitely one of my favorites so far, and not just because I love Miss Marple. It’s very light-hearted and often humorous. The characters of the Vicar and his wife are also appealing. Ms. Christie added drawings to the book to help in the understanding of where all the buildings lie, the layout of the Vicar’s house and study. Very helpful.
**The picture of Miss Marple above is actually Helen Hayes who played Jane Marple in two television movies in the 1980’s. She is who I visualize whenever I think of Miss Marple. I know there are others who have played her quite well but Helen Hayes is who I think of.