Murder at the Vicarage

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Our mystery this month was Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage, which was the first time the famous Miss Marple appeared in a full length book.

Some people had read this before, which is not surprising, seeing as how long ago the book was written.  It was originally published in 1930.  One member read it but didn’t enjoy it.  She found it slow going and thought it took too long for things to happen.  Another member couldn’t get into it and ended up not finishing it.

I hadn’t read it before and found it entertaining.  I thought it was fun to try to figure out the mystery, what with all the hints, red herrings and subplots.  While Miss Marple didn’t have a large presence in this, her initial outing, she provided key thoughts, hints and information. 

This mystery was a tangle of information and misinformation and part way through, I found myself doubting the reliability of the vicar as narrator.  Perceptions are challenged, relationships explored and through it all, the world of a small village comes through.

Most people chose the vicar as a favorite character.  The vicar’s wife was also intriguing, as was Lettice.  Was she really as ditsy as she presented herself to the world?  Miss Marple was not mentioned as a favorite character, but I thought that by the end of the story, the vicar, at least, appreciated her talents of observation and abilities to reach a conclusion, whereas at the beginning of the story, the elderly spinster lady was written off as a gossip and a busybody and essentially a non-entity in the affairs of the village.

We didn’t really spend much time discussing the slow pace of the story and the complaint about how nothing happened for such a long time, but this was obviously something that some people didn’t enjoy.  While some of us found the search for clues part of the fun, others may have been looking for a faster pace more in the style of modern mysteries.  The member who read today’s choice but didn’t enjoy it, did go on to read another of Ms. Christie’s works and enjoyed it immensely.

We had an interesting and enlightening discussion about reading and how we came to be readers.  We also discussed how we chose what to read next.  Most people usually picked up something by an author they had already read, though friend recommendations were also highly valued.

I explained how I found interesting things to read while shelving books at the library, the most recent of which is The Feng Shui Detective by Nury Vittachi, which is posted on the sidebar as this month’s pick.

Jane and … #4

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And we’re off to the races! – Jane and the Genius of the Place