Agatha Christie: Murder at the Vicarage

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.

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22 Responses to Agatha Christie: Murder at the Vicarage

  1. British mysteries are just so wonderful! And I love the hat Helen Hayes is wearing in that picture: it’s perfect!

  2. Kay says:

    I love Miss Marple. Definitely my favorite detective. I’ve read all the books and stories starring her and consider them some of my favorite comfort reads. I haven’t watched the movies that star Helen Hayes. I will admit that Joan Hickson is my favorite Miss Marple. I’ll take a look at the Hayes ones and see what I think. Hope you enjoy the challenge.

  3. cerrin says:

    I love the Miss Marple movies! I have a hard time getting into the books…but I love the movies. I think the Agatha Cristie books make Great movies. Especialy how Master piece theater does them lol

  4. Kathy says:

    Every time I read your Christie posts, they remind me that I need to read one of her books. It sounds like I should start with a Miss Marple book.

  5. Stacy says:

    You are very much tempting me with these posts and it’s only going to get worse since you are only on #11!!! I only recently listened to my first Agatha Christie and really liked it; I have 3 Christie titles on my shelves already; you know how how obsessed I can be in reading books in order. I am resisting the urge to try this, but you are probably going to convince me someday 😉

  6. Toni Gomez says:

    I have never read Christie … I sure would love to. Sounds like you are enjoying your challenge.

  7. I’ve just started my addiction to Christie and can’t wait until I meet Miss Marple!!

  8. Belle says:

    I’ve been rereading Christie in audio, but haven’t yet gotten to Murder in the Vicarage. It’s been a long time since my last reading of this one, so I’m sure I’ll be surprised by who did it!

  9. Bluestocking says:

    I really enjoyed this novel. I need to review it. I have so many Agatha Christie books; it’s not even funny.

  10. Christopher says:

    just wanted to comment about how I really like the look of your blog mom, it looks great. I’ve decided I’m going back to Atalpaha (or however you spell it!), thanks! Cx

  11. kaye says:

    that’s quite a challenge to take on–I’ve read a few of her books.

  12. You’ve been reeling me in since you first mentioned your Agatha Christie challenge and I think maybe with this post you’ve hooked me. I’m off to the Library tomorrow anyway, so I’ll see if they have some readable copies. I watched a Miss Marple on OPB (PBS) Mystery last week; it was pretty good, but I agree that Helen Hayes was the definitive Miss Marple.

  13. BooksPlease says:

    I haven’t read this one, although I watched a TV version a few years ago with Geraldine MacEwan as Miss Marple. She’s not my favourite Miss M by any means – that’s Joan Hickson.

    I’m not reading the books in any order as I only have a few and am relying on library books or finding secondhand copies. So I’m reading them as they are available. I read loads of her books when I was a teenager but re-reading them is like finding them for the first time!

  14. Kerrie says:

    Don’t forget to add it to the Blog Carnival Margot:

  15. Beth F says:

    I love Miss Marple! Oh I need to read all the Christie books I’ve missed and revisit those I’ve enjoyed.

  16. FleurFisher says:

    Yes, this is a good! But I have to agree with margaret – Joan Hickson is the definitive Miss Marple.

  17. I, too, have been a fan of Agatha Christie since my teen years but haven’t read any for quite some time. We are in a challenge that requries us to read 2 Miss Marple stories and 2 Poirot stories this year – we will look for this one – sounds great.

  18. Terra says:

    This book, Murder at the Vicarage, sounds like one I would like to read, so I will add it to my TBR list.
    On my blog, I am compiling a list of favorite books read in 2009, selected by my blog’s readers, and I add my own 2 choices too.

  19. Jeannie says:

    I’m reading this book right now! I just love Miss Marple 🙂 Also, I have to agree with you, Helen Hayes is my favorite actress to portray Miss Marple and also like you, she is the one I think of first! 🙂 Nice review!

  20. Nan says:

    Great review! I have yet to read any Miss M books, though I do own the stories. I love your plan of reading them in order.

  21. Nan says:

    Me, again. I just got this at the library!!

  22. Pingback: 2010: #35 – Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie) | Confessions of a Bibliophile

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