“It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed my choice on a certain Wednesday at luncheon at the Vicarage.”
Agatha Christie’s tenth novel, and the first in the Miss Marple series, The Murder at the Vicarage is one of the greatest ‘whodunnit?’ novels of all times.
First published in 1930, this novel was ahead of its time. It deals with so-called scandalous issues of adultery, burglary, and murder. Although not as successful as Agatha Christie’s earlier works, most notably The Mysterious Affair at Styles, it still manages to draw the reader in and leave them wanting more.
It’s a murder mystery, full of plot twists and suspense and the basis of many tv shows. Miss Marple is an unlikely hero in more ways than one. She reveals the darker side of her quaint little village slowly and meticulously, in true Christie fashion. This novel leaves you gripping the edge of your seat as you turn page after page trying to figure out just who, exactly, is the murderer.
The story revolves around the Vicar of a small parish. He desperately tries to solve the murder of Colonel Protheroe, a man found dead in the Vicar’s study one evening. The catch? Colonel Protheroe was the most hated man in the village. News spreads like wildfire and Miss Marple quickly becomes involved, offering strange insights and uncanny observations. As the police narrow down the suspects and make arrests, she attempts to solve the murder before the killer escapes. Everyone has a motive, a few have the means, but only one person committed the crime… or was it?
The Murder at the Vicarage is one of my favourite detective novels, full of mystery and intrigue that immediately draws the reader in.
- The novel is full of unique and well-developed characters. There’s a trouble vicar, a flighty daughter, an unfaithful wife, an attractive artist, and even an archaeologist with an interesting past. Each character has their own background, desires, and problems, which all together add up to a realistic read.
- The plot is a masterpiece by itself. Finding a killer? Easy! Finding the killer of the most hated man in the entire village? Not so much. Since everyone had a reason to kill the Colonel, no character escapes suspicion and this keeps the reader on their toes throughout the novel.
- Human behaviour is examined to the fullest of Christie’s abilities. It’s because of human nature that Miss Marple is able to solve the case, and it’s because of human nature that the Colonel was murdered to begin with. It gives a brilliant insight into how society acts, something that’s still relatable even ninety years later.
- There are an awful lot of characters, and a lot of characters means a lot of subplots. Although this does contribute to the overall mystery of the novel, it can get confusing at times as you struggle to remember who does what.
- The murder is solved by the Power of Gossip. Miss Marple is a stereotypical old lady who pokes her way into everyone’s business. Despite the fact that she uses her knowledge for the greater good, as it were, it can get a bit annoying, as some chapters read like the chitter-chatter of nosy busybodies.
- Most of the story is told through dialogue, which may be tiring for some readers. There’s not much action throughout the novel, and nearly all the information given is purely because someone is telling someone else.
Overall, I’d give Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage a four out of five. It’s a fantastic tale full of confusion and revelations and has a shocking ending that leaves you wanting more.
I recommend this novel to anyone who’s a fan of mystery, murder, or detective stories. Although completely different from most crime books, it’s still well worth the read!
Want to read it for yourself?
Prefer to listen instead?