This is more like it! This has the sparkle I was expecting from Agatha Christie which I haven’t always found in some of the other books I’ve read during this Challenge. This month the book needed to feature a vicar and here we have one in a first-person narrative. It is set in St. Mary Mead and was the first novel to feature Miss Marple, not in a central role but she certainly knows what’s going on and I’m not surprised that Christie saw her potential as a recurring character.
Clement, the vicar lives with his much younger wife Griselda and his sixteen year old nephew Dennis at The Vicarage. The Protheroes lives up at the Old Hall. In the opening lunch scene the vicar announces any would-be murderer of Colonel Protheroe would be doing the world a great service and before long the Colonel turns up dead in the vicar’s study. It’s investigated by the prickly Inspector Slack who has no time for how things are done in small villages and the more genial Chief Constable Colonel Melchett. Two people own up to the murder early on but their confessions do not fit into the timeline. The villagers, especially the group of elderly ladies who don’t miss a trick are keen to unravel the truth behind the murder.
There’s a good range of suspects to consider from an adulterous couple, the future heiress, a handsome artist, a mysterious newcomer and a vengeful poacher and luckily Miss Marple is on hand to sort and analyse as in Christie’s words; “There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”
This has been my favourite of the Christie titles I have read for the seven months of the Challenge. Next month I need to seek out a story set at the seaside.
Murder At The Vicarage was first published in 1930. I read a Harper Collins e-book edition.