A Murder Is Announced
by Agatha Christie

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

a Miss Marple mystery

Collins: London, 1950
256 pages

Dodd, Mead: New York, 1950

248 pages

February 2009

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.
Advertisement in the Personal column of the
North Benham News and Chipping Cleghorn Gazette

Advertising a murder in advance of the event is definitely unorthodox, but what can it mean? Leading off an Agatha Christie novel, we know that this may be a joke, or an invitation to a mystery-themed party, but whatever else it is, such an advertisement is a prelude to some kind of wrongful death, and probably quickly so. Driven by curiosity, a handful of folks of the village of Chipping Cleghorn show up at their friends' home at the appointed time, and of course are even more diverted than they expect.

Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced is a thoroughly neat and well-crafted mystery, a superb puzzle of detection, and quite suspenseful.

The processes of investigation, analysis, and finally of solution are ably abetted by Christie's unorthodox heroine of detection, Miss Jane Marple: an elderly woman of the village-gossip type who draws on her long experience of human nature for keen, practical insights; and who under an amiable surface has a steely passion for justice. Of the Miss Marple books, this is one of the very best, not least because Miss Marple herself is present for much of the action.

A Murder Is Announced has several of the classic mystery elements: A closed-room sort of situation; a tangled and obscure history; and subtle psychology. These all work very well together here, with strong characterizations and growing suspense throughout.

Very well done, very enjoyable, and gains on re-reading.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

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