3rd January 2021.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the Miss Marple series in the order they were written. Alongside the deft characterisation, wry social comments, ingenious plots and Agatha’s Christie’s effortless writing style, you get to see the author and Miss Marple develop.
The story starts with an ad in the local newspaper, announcing the date, time and place of a murder. Naturally, the locals are intrigued and find excuses to visit the house, where the occupants, equally mystified and intrigued, are ready to welcome them. At the allotted time, the lights go out and three shots are fired soon after. When the lights are restored, a stranger in a mask lies dead on the floor.
It doesn’t take long to identify the stranger and come up with possible motives for what happened. Was it a prank gone wrong, an accident or something more sinister? Fortunately for the police, Miss Marple isn’t far away and soon starts piecing everything together.
The book follows Inspector Craddock’s investigation. He soon discovers that almost everyone at the house at the time of the shooting has a motive for murder. This creates plenty of red herrings, false trails and dead ends to keep the mystery bubbling along nicely until Miss Marple figures it all out.
When she reveals the murderer and motive, you realise all the clues were there in plain sight as the story was told. And as you would expect from an author at the top of her game, there are no loose ends or plot holes to be seen.
If you accept the attitudes and values that were prevalent in 1950, this is another brilliant, entertaining and clever whodunit that’s a pleasure to read and contemplate afterwards.
A mystery that will defy even the most ingenious of detectives because, when you turn over a stone in an English village, you have no idea what will crawl out…
‘I’m not too late, am I? When does the murder begin?’
An announcement appears in the local paper: this Friday, at exactly 6.30pm, a murder will take place.
Who could resist such an invitation?
Driven by morbid curiosity, the villagers head to the appointed location: a quiet house on the outskirts of the village.
The crowd gathers. The clock counts down. And then the lights go out.