“‘You see,’ she began at last, ‘living alone, as I do, in a rather out-of-the-way part of the world, one has to have a hobby. There is, of course, woolwork, and Guides, and Welfare, and sketching, but my hobby is – and always has been – Human Nature.’”The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie
This year I am joining in with Agatha Christie Limited‘s #readchristie2021 challenge, and just in the nick of time for this month I have enjoyed re-reading “The Murder at the Vicarage”, for July’s theme “a story starring a vicar”. This is the first full-length novel to feature Miss Marple, published in 1930, and it introduces us to St Mary Mead and the host of interesting residents that live there.
The story begins shortly before “tea and scandal” at the vicarage, with vicar Reverend Clement’s wife, the youthful and highly likeable Griselda, preparing to host some of St Mary Mead’s more elderly female residents. The scandal they discuss takes in many of the village’s inhabitants, including the widely disliked Colonel Protheroe, who seems to have fallen out or be in the middle of a row with a large number of people, including his own wife and daughter, local artist Mr Redding, and even the church curate. It therefore comes as no surprise when Colonel Protheroe is found murdered – shot in the head while sitting at the vicar’s own desk.
This is a highly enjoyable Miss Marple mystery, and after reading the later novel “Nemesis” last month (actually the last Miss Marple novel Agatha Christie wrote), it was nice to go back to an early story and meet Miss Marple, Reverend Clement, Inspector Slack et al. for the ‘first’ time, again. Miss Marple is given ample opportunity to apply her knowledge of Human Nature to uncover the solution that eludes everyone else, and as with all Christie books, everything was entirely wrapped up to my satisfaction!