Author : Agatha Christie
Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks
The murder of Colonel Protheroe -- shot through the head -- is a shock to everyone in St Mary Mead, though hardly an unpleasant one. Now even the vicar, who had declared that killing the detested Protheroe would be 'doing the world at large a favour,' is a suspect -- the Colonel has been dispatched in the clergyman's study, no less. But the picturesque English village of St Mary Mead is overpopulated with suspects. There is of course the faithless Mrs Protheroe; and there is of course her young lover -- an artist, to boot.Perhaps more surprising than the revelation of the murderer is the detective who will crack the case: 'a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner.' Miss Jane Marple has arrived on the scene, and crime literature's private men's club of great detectives will never be the same.
Murder at The Vicarage sets in a small village of St. Mary Mead where everyone knows everyone. Even to the extent of their personal lives. Gossip could easily spread and nothing exciting happen in the village. That is, until Colonel Protheroe is shot at the vicarage and found by the vicar Leonard Clement. It’s difficult to find the murderer since Colonel Protheroe is not a favorite man in the village. Almost everyone in the village has a motive to kill him; even the vicar said it himself. No need to worry, because Miss Marple the next door neighbor has a hidden talent to stick her nose into other people’s business and deduce something out of it.
Murder at The Vicarage apparently is a book in which Miss Marple first appears. Yet, the story is told from the vicars perspective. In fact, Miss Marple doesn’t appear much in the story. She is still the one who solves the mystery though. In this book, Miss Marple comes across as a nosy old woman to me. Miss Marple is fascinated by human behavior which resulting in her being perceptive of people around her. That fact would make her a target for the murderer. Since most people in the village don't take her seriously, the murderer doesn't see her as a threat.
The vicar and his wife are more intriguing than Miss Marple. The vicar has a bad sense of humor that the inspector mistook it as a motive to murder Colonel Protheroe. It makes him seen as a suspect and for a while I thought that this book will be another Murder of Roger Ackoyrd. But as a narrator, the Vicar is quite observant. He has the quality to become Miss Marple's sidekick. This also applies to his wife, Griselda. She's witty and her views of the case (and everything, including how to train her maid) are unique. Although to the Vicar she appears as childish. It's understandable since Griselda is almost 20 years younger than him.
".... I remarked, in a spirit most becoming to my cloth, that anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe (the churchwarden) would be doing the world at large a service."
Murder at The Vicarage is the kind of book that the readers should keep a watchful eye on or they will lose track. I had a hard time remembering each character's name because there are a lot of minor characters. Some are even felt like distractions from the true plot. Which is why this book is not my favorite book of Christie. But then, there's no harm on reading Murder at The Vicarage as a starter if you're new to Agatha Christie's works.