The Murder at the Vicarage’ is where Agatha Christie first introduces us to Miss Marple. The narrator of the story is The Reverend Leonard Clement, vicar of St Mary Mead and he describes Miss Marple as a ‘white-haired old lady with a gentle, and appealing manner.’ He also calls her ‘dangerous.’
It is the vicar who discovers the first body, that of Colonel Protheroe, in the vicarage study. Colonel Protheroe was universally unpopular and there are many people who might have a grudge against him. However, at first glance, this is an open and shut case, as before long the police receive a confession. End of story? We know better! The number of suspects mounts, there are red herrings galore but Miss Marple, demonstrating for the first time the quiet brilliance that indeed makes her ‘dangerous’ to evil-doers, makes sure that the villain is unmasked and will ultimately be punished.
In ‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ Miss Marple actually describes her methods; ’You see, living alone, as I do, one has to have a hobby…my hobby is-and always has been-Human Nature…One begins to class people, quite definitely, just as though they were birds or flowers.’ So like Hercule Poirot, she believes that people act according to type, and comments, ‘You’d be surprised if you knew how very few distinct types there are.’ This knowledge of human psychology, together with he knack of recognising a clue when she sees one, is what makes this gentle old lady a force to be reckoned with.
‘The Murder at the Vicarage’ is a really satisfying murder mystery read. We briefly meet some characters who will re-appear in future stories, Dr Haydock and Colonel Melchett for example, and the relationship between the somewhat staid but likeable vicar and his lovely scatterbrained wife is very appealing.
Do take a look at this novel if you haven’t already done so. It’s classic Christie and incidentally, uses the Agatha Christie ‘sleight of hand’ referred to elsewhere on this site!
To get hold of this Agatha Christie classic- see following links.The Murder at the Vicarage