Miss Jane Marple, one of the beloved female detectives, made her debut in Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. Depicted as a gossipy and inquisitive old lady snooping around the village, she is one of those sleuths people love to read. One of the characteristic features of almost all the books featuring Miss Marple is that her character does not occupy much of the space in the books. She appears irregularly and sometimes only in a handful of scenes. And, the same can be said for Murder at the Vicarage too. This book, a masterfully plotted story, also introduces the readers to St. Mary Mead (a fictional English village where life is slow and stagnant) and a number of other characters who appear in some of Christie’s later books too. The book is also full of humour and sarcastic observations, and will definitely be a delight for readers.
Let us turn our attention to the plot of the book. As the title of the books suggests, the book deals with a murder that takes place at the vicarage in St. Mary Mead, a sleepy little town. The man who gets murdered is Colonel Protheroe, a man disliked by a number of people in this village. So, there are a number of people who could have committed this murder. The needle of suspicion moves from one person to another and a number of twists confuse the readers. Interestingly things get more complicated when two different people come out and confess to the murder. The rest of the book centers on finding out who killed the victim. Questions like how and why was he killed have also been dealt with.
The book has almost all the elements that a murder mystery should have. The murder is the central plot of this book. A number of clues have been left at the right places for the readers to solve the case. There are a number of red herrings to throw things off. The book starts slowly but soon picks up the required pace. As is the case with most of Christie’s books, not enough attention has been given on the development of characters. The main focus here is the plot and not the characters. Even the character of Miss Marple, the debutant, has not been given enough space. The ending is satisfactory but did not come with an ‘a-ha’ moment. The readers will not say that they did not see it coming.
While I liked this novel, this work somehow failed my expectations. Of course, I would have given it four stars if the book was written by somebody else. But it is a book by the queen of mystery and I always expect more from her. And, this book somehow disappointed me. Additionally, among all the detectives of Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot is my favourite. So, there will be a bias towards the books featuring Miss Marple. Therefore, go and read this book. Maybe you will fall in love with Miss Marple as a number of people already have. And, most importantly, this is a Christie book and books by her deserve to be read.