The Murder at the Vicarage

  • Miss Marple
  • Novel
  • 1930

‘Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a favour!’ It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the colonel was found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

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The Murder at the Vicarage is one of Agatha Christie’s most popular books. It was the first of her mysteries to be published as part of her publisher Collins’ new Crime Club series and the first novel to feature Miss Marple. Not a book club exactly, The Crime Club was a series of mystery titles published and promoted under the name.

Not only are we formally introduced to the village of St Mary Mead and the "Parish cats" otherwise known as Miss Marple and her friends, but several other recurring characters including the vicar and his wife, Leonard and Griselda Clement, who also appeared in The Body in the Library (1942) and 4.50 from Paddington (1957). Dorothy L Sayers was particularly complimentary of this novel. "Dear old Tabbies" she wrote to Christie, "are the only possible right kind of female detective and Miss M is lovely ... I think this is the best you have done - almost".

The novel was adapted for the screen, first with Joan Hickson in 1986 and again in 2004 with Geraldine McEwan in the starring role. BBC Radio 4 dramatised the story in 2003 with June Whitfield and the graphic novel adaptation was first published in France in 2005 under the title L'Affaire Protheroe.

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