Crime Classics: The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (1930)



Miss Marple makes her debut in this novel which was my first introduction to Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth. It was a very enjoyable crime mystery although I didn’t find Miss Marple herself very endearing. Maybe I have to get to know her a bit more. She was quite peripheral for most of this story but came to the fore at the end with her solution to the crime.

Mr Clement, the vicar of the sleepy little village of St Mary Mead, narrates the story. He is married to Griselda who is almost twenty years his junior and they share their home with their nephew, Dennis.

‘You underestimate the detective instinct of village life. In St Mary Mead everyone knows your most intimate affairs. There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.’

Colonel Protheroe is found dead and the whole village comes under suspicion because just about everyone seems to have a motive for the murder. Even the kind-hearted vicar had been heard to say while carving a remarkably tough piece of boiled beef that anyone who murdered the Colonel 'would be doing the world at large a service.'

It takes many twists and turns and false conjectures before the murderer is revealed.
While I appreciated the complicated plot and the murder’s resolution, what I enjoyed most about The Murder at the Vicarage were the relationships between the people at the vicarage. The Vicar and his wife have such  disparate natures. He is serious while she is witty and playful and often exasperates or embarrasses her husband with her comments. Dennis’s remarks and ditties are full of fun, and the droll descriptions of the abysmal meals cooked and served by Mary their testy maid are delightful.
I'd like to know if Miss Marple becomes more likeable. Is she really just an old gossip and busybody, albeit with rare detective skills, or does she have some more admirable qualities?



Linking this to the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020 for the Genre Classic (Mystery)
And the Classics Club 50 Classics in 5 Years Challenge.





Comments

Silvia said…
Yes, I'm like you. I like the plots when they are well done, but nothing beats well developed relationships and characters.

I don't know Miss Marple that well, I'm more of a Poirot person. However, I'm loving the Christie revival I'm seeing in many blogs.
Carole said…
Interesting selections for this month. Thanks
I liked the movies with Miss Marple, but I don't remember the books. This year, I'm actually going to reread or rather listen to all of Hercule Poirot, because it's the 100th anniversary of his appearance. When I'm done with him, I'll do the same with Miss Marple
mudpuddle said…
i hardly ever am able to figure out who the guilty party is even tho i've read lots of mysteries... it's the characters who keep me interested... i'm sure i read this at some point, maybe fifty or sixty years ago; hard to remember, now... AC is a permanent resource, tho... a cure for all sorts of literary boredom or ennui... Miss M is a quiet person, a quality i appreciate... nice post, tx...
Ruthiella said…
I love Miss Marple, but I suspect I am greatly influenced by Joan Hickson's gentle portrayal of her in the wonderful BBC series from the 90s. Miss Marple in this first book is particularly catty and I like to think she mellows some as the books progress. Try (if you are so inclined) A Pocket Full of Rye next. I like that one because Miss Marple has more of an avenging spirit in that one because it gets personal.
Lark said…
I've read several Miss Marple mysteries, but oddly enough not this one. Guess I'll have to rectify that. :)
Carol said…
Hi silvia, it's interesting seeing the various trends in classic book selection. I've been seeing some I thought had been neglected. Love book blogs!
Carol said…
Thanks for your monthly link-up, Carole.
Carol said…
Hi Emma, I've only ever seen Murder on the Orient Express but I've heard some positives on 'Knives Out.'
Carol said…
I can never guess the culprits either, Mudpuddle so it's always a surprise. :)
Carol said…
Hi Ruthiella, thanks for the suggestion. I had intentions to read challenging books this year but I've been drifting into the cosy stuff recently.
Carol said…
Lark, I think it was Ruthiella who persuaded me to try some Marples. I'll probably go with the book she suggested above next.
DoingDewey said…
I love Miss Marple, but I have to agree with you that the real strength of these novels are the people and their relationships. In fact, I think what I like most about Miss Marple is how perceptive she is about other people :)
Carol said…
Hi DoingDewey, I'd be interested in reading more of the Miss Marple books to prove my initial reaction wrong. :)
Marianne said…
I don't usually read classics but I've been toying with the idea to read an Agatha Christie novel since I love watching the series.
Carol said…
Hi Marianne, the only film version I've seen was Murder on the Orient Express, which didn't really grab me. I think from what I've read that the series is much better.