Goodreads: Murder at the Vicarage
Series: Miss Marple #2
Age Category: Adult
It’s no secret that the whole village seems to hate Colonel Protheroe. Still, no one expected him to turn up dead–and certainly not in the vicar’s study! The police start to work on solving the murder, but neighborhood busybody Miss Marple seems to have a keener understanding of human nature, and just might be the first to crack the case.
The first full-length novel in which Agatha Christie’s famous Miss Marple appears is a real treat. The vicar proves a delightful narrator, half astute observer of his own foibles and those of the people around him, and half hapless victim of a crime he cannot comprehend. Though later Miss Marple mysteries arguably possess more twists and turns, I love Murder at the Vicarage for the way it is told. The vicar–and everyone else–want to play at amateur sleuths. But it turns out that nosy Miss Marple is the real detective!
There is something uniquely satisfying in watching an overlooked character triumph over not only the professionals, but also over every character who underestimates them. The villagers of St. Mary Mead dismiss Miss Marple as both an old maid and as an unworldly woman who can have neither the knowledge nor the experience to understand crime. Miss Marple proves time and again, however, that she understands human nature–and not just of the people she has been able to observe for most of her life. Her trademark is being able to draw parallels between village life and the rest of humanity–it turns out that people are much the same everywhere! Outsiders might look down on St. Mary Mead, but Miss Marple understands that even a village has its passions, its loves, and betrayals, perhaps just on a smaller scale.
Murder at the Vicarage, however, feels fresh because it is told, not from Miss Marple’s perspective, but from that of the vicar. He seems a kind fellow, intellectual in his own way, but a bit bumbling when it comes to solving crime. He also seems half-afraid of women, as if he is not quite sure what to do with them, so he leaves them to be entertained by his charming young wife Griselda. Miss Marple, shrewd and keen, is quite out of his league! But one must give the vicar credit. He recognizes Miss Marple’s gifts and certainly would love to see her outwit the arrogant policeman assigned to the case. His little witty observations about the people of St. Mary Mead are quite the gift to the read, if perhaps not entirely holy.
Murder at the Vicarage is a wonderful foray into the world of Miss Marple! And just the first of many Miss Marple mysteries I intend to enjoy!