Many people are familiar with Agatha Christie’s protagonist Hercule Poirot as he is the central figure in many of her mysteries. But he isn’t the only one solving mysteries in Christie’s books. Miss Marple made her debut in Murder at the Vicarage and became a fan favorite over the decades. Keep reading for a short summary of the book and see if this book is for you!
Murder at the Vicarage Summary
The Reverend Leonard Clement, the vicar of St Mary Mead, is the one narrating the story. During dinner one night Clement says the anyone who kills Protheroe would be doing the world a favor. A few days later, Clement returns from a farm and learns that Protheroe was killed by a gunshot to the back of his head.
The police gather clues and come across a note from Protheroe that contradicts the time of death that has been established. Two people are arrested for the murder but are exonerated soon after. Miss Marple has some suspects in mind but she isn’t sure who the killer is. That leads her to gathering more clues.
A suitcase was seen being carried to the woods and Miss Marple believes it is an important clue. Things take a turn for the worst as another murder takes place. Can Miss Marple solve this mystery before anyone else is killed?
Book History and Commentary
Not only was this the first Miss Marple book, it was also the first book to feature Christie’s village of St Mary Mead. The novel received mediocre reviews for several reasons. Some critics thought that it didn’t compare to her earlier books while others thought it was too far-fetched.
The New York Times didn’t hold back any punches with their review in 1930. “The talented Miss Christie is far from being at her best in her latest mystery story. It will add little to her eminence in the field of detective fiction. The local sisterhood of spinsters is introduced with much gossip and click-clack. A bit of this goes a long way and the average reader is apt to grow weary of it all, particularly of the amiable Miss Marple, who is sleuth-in-chief of the affair.” The reviewer concluded their review with this remark: “The solution is a distinct anti-climax.”
At least they called her talented! Christie herself thought that the book had too much going on later. Christie herself later wrote: “Reading Murder at the Vicarage now, I am not so pleased with it as I was at the time. It has, I think, far too many characters, and too many sub-plots. But at any rate the main plot is sound.”
I do agree that there was a bit too much going on but it was a great novel, nonetheless. Like Christie says, the main plot was sound. She did introduce too many characters and that may have been to hide the killer and throw red herrings throughout the book. Happy reading!