A Murder is Announced (1950) – Agatha Christie

Title: A Murder is Announced
Author: Agatha Christie
Date Published: 1950
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
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“Murder isn’t a game…”

On a perfectly normal morning at the breakfast tables of several perfectly normal people the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette, a rather desperate newspaper, is opened revealing the following cryptic message:

A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th; at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m. Friends please accept this, the only intimation.

As is the usual case with nosy neighbors living in small rural villages, each one felt it was their right to visit the Little Paddocks estate on the aforementioned date. Arriving at the house as if for a party, each neighbor gave the owner Letitia Blacklock a different and seemingly innocent reason for ‘simply popping by’, and so the reader will now experience a literal game of Cluedo in the form of a crowded room, a mysterious stranger and a murder…

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Now, bearing in mind that no one present at Little Paddocks will be able to give a very clear description of anything that occurred that night to Chief Inspector Craddock and Sergeant Fletcher, who are investigating this particular case. Rather it is up to amateur detective Miss Jane Marple, to assist in what will become one of Agatha Christie’s most complicated and meandering plots in the writer’s vast catalogue.

In this rather dark mystery, we have all the ingredients for a classic murder scenario: a large estate house owned by the secretive Miss Letitia Blacklock who may or may not have a vast empire worth stealing; notable characters such as the ditsy and lovable Dora Bunner, the feisty foreign cook Mitzi, and the suspiciously aloof young Julia Simmons. Along with these characters and the numerous neighbors, there is also the appearance of Swiss hotel receptionist Rual Scherz and the strange story behind the dying widow, Sonia Goedler and her connection to Little Paddocks. Throw in a missing gun, a secret door and a pair of siblings who mysteriously disappeared and you have quite a maze of intrigue to wade through.

As complicated as the plot may seem at times Christie does not for one page disappoint in terms of suspense. The novel is filled with surprises and the rather eclectic handful of characters are a delight. The famed Octogenarian Miss Marple plays a very minor role in this mystery interestingly enough, and in fact at times seems more of a keen observer than a key player.

In conclusion, Christie’s Marple murder mystery is as entertaining as a game of Cluedo, and that’s pretty damn entertaining!

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