The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The Murder at the VicarageMurder At The Vicarage:  “It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed my choice on a certain Wednesday at luncheon in the Vicarage.”


Detective: Miss Marple (first appearance)

Published: 1930

Length: 285 pages

Setting: St. Mary Mead, Downshire (fictional)

Len Clement is the vicar of St. Mary Mead, a quaint quiet English village with the usual bevy of eldery ladies whose time is spent spreading the village news. Clement, with his pretty young wife, Griselda, is more than accustomed to entertaining his parishioners and it’s common for them to come to him for advice. Expecting a visit from Colonel Protheroe, Clement is unexpectedly called away on an emergency but, finding it a hoax, returns to find Colonel Protheroe shot dead in Clement’s own study.  It’s perhaps not a surprising occurrence.  Protheroe is a cantankerous, demanding, surly man who is not well-liked by anyone.  With a wife, who dislikes him, a daughter who merely tolerates him for money, and a man who has eyes for Protheroe’s wife, the suspects are many and motives abound.

St. Mary Mead

House of Jane Marple, St. Mary Mead (for the T.V. series)
~ source Wikipedia

Inspector Slack is called in to investigate.  With his over-confident demeanour, his ignorant bullheadedness and narrow viewpoints, one wonders if Protheroe’s murderer will be brought to justice.  Yet everyone has underestimated the fluttery yet astute elderly ladies of the village, in particular Miss Marple.  Very little gets past her and, being a person who is extremely adept at studying human nature, these two qualities enable her to puzzle together the disjointed clues, wade through the numerous suspects, and arrive at the solution to this complex mystery.

Old Vicarage

Old Vicarage, Grantchester ~ source Wikipedia

I just loved this first Miss Marple mystery and gave it five stars!  I thought the setting of St. Mary’s Mead just perfect, to contrast a small quiet village with a shocking and devious murder.  Christie created Mr. Clement with just the right balance between a dutiful pastor but a pastor with the weaknesses and foibles of a man.  Miss Marple’s fluttery manner and sometimes appearance of confusion in contrast with her razor-sharp astuteness and superior reasoning is delightful, especially when she crosses wits with someone as dull and pompous as Inspector Slack.

View of Sir David Wilkie's House

View of Sir David Wilkie’s House in Vicarage Place Kensington (1842) William Collins
~ source Wikiart

While this first Miss Marple book was enjoyed by critics, it was for many not considered Christie’s best crafted novel, the Daily Express saying, “I have read better works by Agatha Christie, but that does not mean that this last book is not more cheerful, more amusing, and more seductive than the generality of detective novels.”  Christie herself had some criticisms of it, claiming that later, “Reading Murder at the Vicarage now, I am not so pleased with it as I was at the time. It has, I think, far too many characters, and too many sub-plots. But at any rate the main plot is sound.”  I, however, thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to her next Miss Marple mystery!


“There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”


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17 thoughts on “The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

  1. I read this back in 2015 and really enjoyed it. I’ve just finished my 5th Miss Marple and the 6th arrived in the post last week.

    • It’s lots of fun. You’re probably 5 Marple’s ahead of me now. I’m just reading her Hound of Death short story compilation with lots of seances and voices from the grave. Not really my cup of tea.

    • What I think will be interesting as I read more of Miss Marple. I’m finding Poirot hit and miss so I wonder if Miss Marple will be more consistent. We’ll see ….

  2. I read it awhile back but I thought the relationship between the pastor and his younger wife was lovely. I was really pleased neither of them committed the murder!
    Great to see a new post here. 🙂

    • Me too! I really liked the interactions between them.

      Thanks, Carol. I’d written a few posts and kept them private as I’ve been feeling rather solitary lately. With all the utter craziness in the world and family struggles, it’s been one of those times. But I’m not gone forever, only resting a bit. Hope you and your family are doing well!

  3. It’s been forever since I read this one and I remember only the littlest bit of it. I should reread it. It would be practically like a new mystery.

    Hope all’s well and glad to see your post!

    • I highly recommend it. Miss Marple definitely makes one smile!

      Thanks so much, Reese, for the kind words. I hope to be more present soon. I’ve missed connecting with all my blog friends! I hope you and your family are doing well!

    • Really? I had no idea! I’ll have to re-watch the DVDs and look closely. I think Joan Hickson was the best Miss Marple. I don’t like the newer Marple T.V. mysteries at all.

  4. I was looking at an old list of “books read” a while back and this was one of the first Christie I read, but I’m afraid I don’t remember it at all! I’ve always found Miss Marple delightful, though, and can’t wait until I get to this in my read-through. So glad you like it!

    • I’m glad to hear that you’re still plugging along with the challenge like me. Actually this is one of my more successful challenge attempts. You definitely have this one to look forward to!

      • Oh, it’s too fun to read Agatha Christie to stop. I just have so many other books on the list that I’m not reading through her books quickly. But I have one out from the library now that will be read soon!

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