Title: Murder At the Vicarage
Author: Agatha Christie
Nutshell: The vicar is a much put upon man. He must deal with the problems of the village, and the gossips, and the problems caused by the gossips talking about the other problems. In addition, his wife is flighty and his maid is awful. So really, finding a man shot to death in his library ought to be the end of enough. But no, not only is the man found shot in his library, but everyone connected with the case seems determined to involve him in the matter. The gossipping ladies share their gossip with him. The principal suspects in the case confess to him, and then un-confess later! The possessions of unrelated persons are found in the woods behind his house, and inside those are the possessions of the muder victim! Really, it’s enough to drive a vicar to drink.
Read-alikes: Dorothy Sayers. Really, I need to read more old detective novels.
Ramblings: This is a bit of an odd duck Christie. It’s written from the point of view of the vicar, and although Miss Marple is there, and contributes some key critical thinking, the mystery is solved by the vicar. So it’s set in his patiently practical viewpoint, the viewpoint of a man who’d just like some peace and quiet. But I doubt he actually wants peace and quiet, or why else would he have married who he married, and why else would he keep asking questions? It’s pretty adorable to watch.
The mystery itself is quite clever also. Just about everyone in town confesses to it. Alright, only three or four people, but that’s far too many confessions for one murder, especially one that nobody can quite prove happened (except for the dead body, of course.) The gun is nowhere. Nobody heard the shot, although it was in an occupied house. Nobody was anywhere near the house at the time of the killing. The clock that stopped when the body struck it was always incorrect. It’s a pickle. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for the vicar, who wants to be a simple man with a simple life, even if he’s in fact a very clever man with a very interesting life.
And that’s really the heart of the story. The vicar acts like a simple man, but he’s got a quick mind, and is in a position of trust in the community, so he takes advantage of the mystery around him to have a bit of adventure. It’s really darling.