Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Murder Is Announced, by Agatha Christie


"A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30pm." So reads the notice in the Gazette. The denizens of Chipping Cleghorn are agog, and they turn out in force to Little Paddocks to see what may be seen. The appointed hour comes and goes, and sure enough, there is a corpse on the floor of the quaint English cottage known as Little Paddocks: the body of an apparent house-breaker, shot through the heart, his pistol beside him. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Fortunately, Miss Marple happens to be in town and lends her prodigious skill to the police, who are--frankly--baffled. But the house-breaker is not the last fatality in Chipping Cleghorn. Before long, there are more mysterious deaths. But who could have done it? The whole town is peopled with nice old ladies, a few young people, a war widow ... not exactly prime murder suspects. But Miss Marple had better figure out what happened, and fast--the residents of Chipping Cleghorn are dropping like flies ...

This is, perhaps, not the best and brightest of Christie's works, but it was an enjoyable romp nonetheless. The murder is rather complicated (and unnecessarily so), but Miss Marple always shines in a village setting, and her deft handling of the various suspects and witnesses is always a pleasure to read.  There are some delightfully foolish characters, and Christie clearly relishes them. I particularly enjoyed Misses Hinchcliffe and Murgatroyd--one caper-witted as all get-out, the other gruff and intelligent and matter-of-fact, but the best of friends regardless of their differences. Christie fans would do well to take in this book, even if it's not her best work.

 Rosemary Leach narrates, quite capably.

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