A Murder Is Announced - Agatha Christie

“A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 p.m. Friends accept this, the only intimation.”

Little Paddocks is a typical village in the English countryside, where people enjoy the quiet life, away from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns, and where everyone knows the everything that is going on in the lives of their neighbours. Or do they?

“In an English village, you turn over a stone and have no idea what will crawl out.”

I have read A Murder is Announced three times now and I still count this as one of my favourite Christie novel – and, yes, even that sanctimonious old busy-body that is Miss Marple does not spoil the book for me.

The reasons I like the story so much are quite simple: It’s essentially a locked-room mystery, but in this one the motives for the murder are different from some of the other mysteries and caused me to think a lot about the effect that the one simple lie (I won’t spoil which one) had on the lives of all the people involved – including on the perpetrator, who is very conflicted over the course of actions taken, when that lie is at risk of being discovered.

“It’s what’s in yourself that makes you happy or unhappy.”

Unlike in some other Christie mysteries, the portrayal of characters is also much more sympathetic to the more ordinary characters who usually seem to be somewhat patronised or ridiculed – quite often by Marple, which is why I don’t like her much. For some reason, she’s not as quick to pass judgement in this book and the villagers are allowed to contribute to the story and to the solution.

“It’s a fine murdering day, (sang Bunch) And as balmy as May And the sleuths from the village are gone.” A rattle of crockery being dumped in the sink drowned the next lines, but as the Rev. Julian Harmon left the house, he heard the final triumphant assertion: “And we’ll all go a’murdering today!”


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