A Murder is Announced
Promoted on both sides of the Atlantic as Agatha Christie's 50th book and published in 1950 by William Collins, A Murder is Announced is a staple of crime fiction and is often considered the best of all the Miss Marple novels. The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.’ A childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out…
One is alone when the last one who remembers is gone.
More about this story
More than a simple murder mystery, this is a story of redemption set in the throes of post-war muddle and discomfort. Miss Marple, on holiday in nearby Medenham Wells, is ably assisted by Inspector Craddock who went on to appear in Sanctuary, 4.50 from Paddington and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. This is one of Christie's most successful conjuring tricks, the physical mechanics actually tested out on her own neighbours in Wallingford, and as usual some of the best, and in retrospect, most infuriating clues are verbal: in this case, you could even say typographical. Agatha Christie even allowed herself a small inhouse joke - the vicarage cat in A Murder is Announced received the rather grand name Tiglath Pileser, after an Assyrian king whose warrior artefacts were discovered on one of her and husband's archaeological excavations.
This story was the first Miss Marple to be adapted for television in 1956, with Gracie Fields in the starring role, alongside Roger Moore. It was later adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon and opened in London at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1977 after a try out in Brighton. Set in "present day", it is one of the few stage plays to feature Miss Marple. It wasn't until 1985 that Joan Hickson revived the story for TV in the BBC's adaptation and it was then adapted again almost twenty years later, in 2004, starring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. In 2005, BBC Radio 4 produced a dramatisation which featured June Whitfield as Miss Marple.