The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – review

Published by Fontana

Publication date – 1975

Source – own copy

’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 service!’

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. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity.

It all has to begin somewhere. And for Miss Marple, it all begins with the murder of Colonel Protheroe, found shot dead in the study at the Vicarage.

Narrated by the resident vicar, we are introduced to the inhabitants of St Mary Mead, where net curtains twitch and secrets abound.

The mystery is engaging. There are a limited number of suspects, and as those are discounted through one reason or another, it looks like the police are running out of options. Reverend Leonard Clement is determined to find out the truth, partly for justice, partly so that the peace of the village can be restored and partly because he feels responsible given the murder occurred in his study. Ruled out as a suspect himself, he is allowed to aid the police in their enquiries. His opinion of Miss Marple is not flattering, viewing her as one of the interfering elderly ladies that reside in the village. Slowly however, he becomes aware that Miss Jane Marple is far more astute than she first seems. She knows that her appearance lulls people, there is little harm in an old woman, almost invisible if not faded into the background. But she sees more than people realise, surreptitiously let into people’s secrets, and her experience of human nature allows her to have insights and ideas that allow the culprit to be unmasked.

Now I can remember this story from the TV adaptation but as always, there is a new pleasure to be found in reading the original words. Hunting for clues allows us to be armchair detectives, the murder perhaps all the more chilling because of the bucolic setting.

I had huge fun curling up with The Murder at the Vicarage. I have heard of people describe Agatha Christie as comfort reading before and I can see why. There is something appealing, and indeed comforting, about being transported to quaint English village between the wars but where everything is not quite as it seems.

I loved my visit to St Mary Mead and my re-introduction to Miss Jane Marple. I’m just pleased I have many more chances to return to Agatha Christie’s murderous ideas.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. I read this one for the first time just a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it 😊 Great review! xx


  2. heavenali says:

    Ah, an old favourite of mine. One of my favourite Marple stories.


  3. FictionFan says:

    Like Ali, one of my favourites! And I adore those old Fontana covers. In my youth they were new Fontana covers (!), and I collected one every pay day for years. They’re looking a bit yellow and tatty from much re-reading now, but I’ve never wanted to replace them.


  4. BookerTalk says:

    Ive seen the tv adaptation multiple times but never read the book. From what I’ve heard, in the early novels Miss Marple wasn’t the kindly figure we’ve got used to seeing in various adaptations. She was often, as you indicate, viewed as a nosy parker….


  5. I remember this one! Lovely review.


  6. It’s such a marvellous book, isn’t it? Just love Christie and Marple, and although I love the Joan Hickson TV adaptations, the book really is always better.


  7. JacquiWine says:

    The Miss Marples are my favourite Agatha Christies, for many of the reasons you highlight in your piece. Lovely review, Janet!


  8. A great comfort read Janet! Perfect for this time of year too.


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