A Murder is Announced was Agatha Christie’s 50th novel and is a highly enjoyable and inventive story for Miss Marple to get her teeth into. Every time I open a Christie, I do wonder what twist she will put on the murder mystery this time and more often than not I’m left very pleasantly surprised at the way her mind works. As was the case here.
Opening sentence: Between 7.30am and 8.30am every morning except Sundays, Johnnie Butt made the round of the village of Chipping Cleghorn on his bicycle, whistling vociferously through his teeth, and alighting at each house or cottage to shove through the letterbox such morning papers as had been ordered by the occupants of the house in question from Mr Totman, stationer, of the High Street.
Well, that is quite a mouthful of an opening sentence BUT it does set the scene nicely as newspapers – specifically the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette – play an important role in the story.
Read all about it
When, one morning, the residents of Chipping Cleghorn see this (below) advert in their local paper, they believe it is a wonderfully inventive invite to a murder mystery party (as they know Miss Letitia Blacklock who lives at Little Paddocks and feel it’s something she might do):
‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m. Friends please accept this, the only imitation.’
Little do they know that it is – in fact – an invite to witness a REAL murder. Little do the people who live at Little Paddocks know either. Along with Miss Blackwood, her friend Dora Bunner, distant counsins Patrick, Julia and Philippa and their cook, Mitzi all live in the house. They are all, along with the neighbours who saw the advert and popped in, prime suspects.
A seemingly random man bursts into the room at the appointed time and attempts to shoot Miss Blacklock, however he is the one that ends up the victim. So what happened? And who set it all up? These are the ingenious questions that Miss Marple (and the police) set out to solve.
Clever and satisfying
A Murder is Announced plays on the intricate way the lives of villagers are intertwined and the general nosiness that everyone has. Even if they try very hard to pretend they don’t. Agatha’s classic cast of characters are here and she does a great job at juggling them all. I had a soft spot for Miss Murgatroyd and Miss Hinchcliffe and didn’t second guess the ending at all.
Another great outing for Miss Marple. I’m really enjoying her stories at the moment. Let me know your favourite Miss Marple reads!
- First published in 1950
- 288 pages
- My Rating: